On February 8, 2017, Somalia witnessed a radical transformation—completely altering a landscape that had been relatively unchanged since the collapse of the government of Siad Barre in 1991.
The election of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Farmajo) has changed the way the world sees Somalia. For the first time in recent history, the people of Somalia banded together in a show of full confidence in a president, something that has been unthinkable since the country gained its independence in 1960.
The review of the provisional constitution is going very well as the Ministry of Constitution is tirelessly consulting with key stakeholders including all segments of the society, Federal member states and politicians. The Ministry of Telecommunication has begun the process to bring the management of Somalia’s .SO domain to the country. A number of key legislations are ready to be tabled at the parliament soon including Anti-Corruption legislation and other key tasks that are necessary to holding one person one vote elections in 4 years time. Public Finance Management and the unification of tax revenues throughout the country is underway. The Ministry of Interior is in the process of implementing reconciliation to heal the wounds of the communities. There are countless reasons for why Somalia’s new direction brings hope for the success and prosperity of the country.
Diplomacy and support
There is tremendous renewed interest among the international community in enhancing diplomatic relations with Somalia after a long lull of resignation. Apart from high level visits, the President received several official invitations to a wide array of countries during the first two months of his presidency.
The new President’s leadership has also secured direct support from a number of countries that will change the lives of ordinary people. Development partners have offered a lot of goodwill in the face of drought—the President secured over $65 million from the UAE alone and further pledges from Saudi Arabia and Qatar in drought assistance. In addition to bilateral partners, the Federal Government has moved to mobilize multilateral organizations as well. Through this partnership, the OIC is now providing over 1.1 million citizens with food aid during the month of Ramadan.
With UN support, the Federal Government has also successfully engaged Somali citizens to contribute; the droughts committee was established, which is the first Ministry dealing with humanitarian affairs in Somalia’s history. Somali citizens have raised around $ 6 million toward drought relief.
Besides budgetary support, the London Conference on Somalia on May 11, 2017 facilitated the adoption of Somalia’s security architecture with the full support of International community. The Security Architecture is in place following consultations of key stakeholders including regional Federal member states of Somalia’s leaders. Since the conference, a Mogadishu Security Plan has been endorsed by the cabinet, and a joint security force of 1500 soldiers have been trained to start stabilizing the capital city of Mogadishu.
From January to April, the Government paid all salaries and food stipends to soldiers—another first—proof that President Farmajo has embraced security as his first priority. This has facilitated regular patrols and security operations—it is no wonder that we are experiencing the most peaceful Ramadan in recent history!
Because the President and his government have full support, confidence, and mandate from the public, al-Shabaab are threatened, and have increased their asymmetric warfare by targeting soft targets and killing civilians. Yet in spite of this, many of their leaders are considering surrender, and a number of low- and mid-level al-Shabaab fighters have already defected to the Federal Government. An Al-Shabaab leader in the Mudug region surrendered to the Somali National Army in Beledweyn district of Hiiraan region, while another al-Shabaab leader in Lower Shabelle region was killed by the Somali National Army. Over 8 senior militias of al-Shabaab have also been killed in Sakow, Middle Jubba region, Jubbaland, Somalia.
The Federal Government has also prioritized closing the loopholes that facilitate corruption. Through this ongoing process, Somalia successfully increased revenues without increasing taxes. Citizens see the direct benefits to this, as with these additional funds the Federal Government was able to self-finance Mogadishu Security Plan.
This sets a track record for a mutually agreed partnership agreement, which sets out the expectations for citizens and government alike to be more accountable and transparent. It also demonstrates to the international community that direct support to Somalia will be properly utilized—for example, the EU and the Ministry of Planning of Somalia have signed direct support agreements on a number of projects. Somalia’s National Development Plan (NDP) is the blueprint for the countries’ priorities that donors are now aligning their support to become Somali owned and Somali led process.
The recent National Development Plan (NDP) has also attracted the support from the international community. On May 27, the Federal Government of Somalia and the EU signed a number of economic agreements to implement development projects worth 48.4 million Euros.
These projects will support economic development and good governance, and will be implemented by the EU across Somalia. Citizens will see the commitment of the Federal Government to investing in the development of the entirety of Somalia, rather than just particular areas.
The President’s vision to hold one person one vote in 4 years is real and the plans and strategies are in place such as establishing constitutional court, implementing multi party system, completing the review of the provisional constitution and implementing the democratization process that are necessary to prepare the country a universal election of one person one vote. The President’s theme of Nabad iyo Nolol (Peace and Life) is gaining the momentum as citizens are also working very hard to support the Federal Government of Somalia and they believe the genuine desire from their leaders to bring peace and life together. While there is still work to be done, the progress that the President has made in his four months in office speaks volumes for what we can continue to expect from Somalia. Yes, Somalia has a new direction—it is on the road to hope!
H.E. Abdirahman Omar Osman (Eng. Yarisow)
Minister of Information of the Federal Republic of Somalia