Wednesday, June 27, 2012
Somali communities emerging from Al Qaida control need the new constitution to offer an effective alternative.
For more than two decades, any news from Somalia has been bad and it is routine to dismiss the country as a failed state with little hope of recovery. But hopeful events this week mean that regional and international friends of Somalia must rally around to support a new initiative to rebuild a state and a shattered society.
On June 24, Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohammad Ali and President Sharif Shaikh Ahmad approved a new draft constitution, supported by the leaders of the self-proclaimed autonomous republics of Puntland and Galmudug (in the country’s north east) and the head of the Sufi Movement, Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamaa. But the successful mini-state of Somaliland (in the north-west) stayed away from the talks, voicing scepticism over its outcome.
What is significant about this new initiative is that it comes as the Al Qaida-linked Al Shabab rebels have been driven out of their positions in capital Mogadishu and from large parts of the hinterland of south and central Somalia, which they have controlled for several years. This success has been achieved by the African Union force fighting together with the fledgling Somali army, supported by troops from both Kenya and Ethiopia.
But as deserters from the Al Shabab increase, it is important that the communities free of their control have a sensible option to follow, which is why the new draft constitution is important. It offers an alternative to endless warlords and militias imposing their arbitrary and despotic control over whatever territory they can get their gunmen to dominate. The infant Somali state needs help. It is important that the African Union peace force stays in place till it is able to manage its own security and the African Union has made clear that it is ready to help. The economy needs help and more stable areas like Puntland in the far north east have already started to attract investors from the Gulf. This is where the GCC should be ready to help by offering investments and helping reshape the desolate Somali economy.