Promoting Somali voices
Given the severe limitations of effective government that persist in Somalia and Somaliland, non-state actors (NSAs) play an important role in delivering services usually provided by the state. However, their voices are often not heard by policymakers.
With the support of the European Commission, Saferworld has been working in the region since 2004 to strengthen the participation and influence of Somali NSAs in key decision-making processes on peace, security, and development. In 2008 we supported the formal creation of three NSA platforms in three Somali political regions: the Somaliland Non State Actors Forum (SONSAF), the Somalia South-Central Non State Actors (SOSCENSA), and the Puntland Non-State Actors Association (PUNSAA).
The platforms’ legitimacy stems from their inclusion of a wide range of geographical, clan, and sectoral representatives, and their consultative approach to policy formation. They provide a two-way channel for communication between national and international policymakers and ordinary Somalis. We support the platforms to actively engage in policy dialogue with Somali authorities and the international community on a range of issues but also to influence key policy and decision-making processes.
In October 2015, Saferworld launched a three-year participatory governance and peacebuilding project, which aims to work with each of the three non-state actor platforms to support their participation in policy dialogue processes regarding democratisation issues. In particular we will work with both PUNSAA and SOSCENSA to ensure that civil society plays an active role in the ongoing review of the Provisional Constitution.
Strengthening democratic processes
Saferworld supports civil society oversight of democratic processes across the Somali regions. For the Somaliland elections, now scheduled for March 2017, Saferworld is supporting voter education on the voter registration process, assisting the Parliament in the amendment of the House of Representatives election legislation and building the capacity of the three political parties that will contest the election. Five hundred domestic election observers will also be trained and deployed for Somaliland’s upcoming presidential and parliamentary elections in March 2017.
Previously, for the 2012 local council elections in Somaliland, Saferworld supported SONSAF to train and deploy 677 domestic observers who observed 60% of polling stations. In addition, the Somaliland Civil Society Election Forum (SCISEF) was established to provide a civil society advocacy platform to raise election-related issues of importance to constituent communities, and to review electoral legislation and stakeholders’ compliance with legal and regulatory frameworks. In 2015, Saferworld supported SONSAF in restructuring SCISEF, to reach both the regional and national levels and to enhance its role in the electoral process, including voter registration. Saferworld trained 180 voter registration observers and deployed them to three regions, reaching 72% of registration centres.
Saferworld also supported PUNSAA to train domestic observers for local elections in Puntland planned for July 2013, but cancelled following outbreaks of violence and political disputes. Saferworld is now working with PUNSAA to carry out consultations and dialogue on the future of democratisation in Puntland.
For the 2016 electoral process in Somalia, we will support civil society to conduct civic engagement, provide technical assistance to the committees overseeing the electoral process at state level and conduct a domestic observation mission.
Supporting reconciliation and political dialogue
In 2014, Saferworld launched a programme of work to support reconciliation and political dialogue, with a particular focus on the three regions that make up the emerging state of Jubaland: Gedo, Lower Juba, and Middle Juba.
Working with SOSCENSA, Saferworld has conducted research into key points of contention between the Federal Government and regional and local administrations in these areas, including the Jubaland Interim Administration. Saferworld has examined contested notions of the state and varying understandings of ‘federalism’ under the Provisional Constitution in order to feed into the constitutional review process and make recommendations for processes to negotiate agreement. The project has also mapped out different options for genuinely national and broad-based reconciliation processes.
This work has been funded by the European Union Delegation to Kenya - Mission to Somalia, Oxfam Novib, and the Danish International Development Agency.
Since the Siad Barre government collapsed in 1991 and large areas of southern and central Somalia descended into persistent conflict, Somalia has made some limited and fragile but nonetheless important progress towards peace and stability.
In 2012, the country’s first “permanent” government post-1991 was selected. Since then, the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), the Somali National Armed Forces and affiliated forces have recovered swathes of territory from the armed opposition group al-Shabaab. In addition to the already established Puntland State of Somalia, there has been some recent progress in establishing interim sub-national administrations – the Interim Juba Administration, the Interim South-West Administration and the Interim Galmudug Administration – though there were tensions and violence in some instances regarding the inclusivity of their formation processes. Despite its territorial losses, al-Shabaab continues to pose a considerable threat, and has been able to carry out repeated attacks in the country, including on civilian UN staff.
As attention shifts to the end of the Federal Government’s mandate in 2016 and the subsequent political transition, much remains to be done to build stable and lasting peace in the country. Key challenges include addressing historical grievances between clans and other social groups and building trust among long-divided communities. This is essential for building legitimate, accepted administrations capable of governing in Somalia. Under the New Deal, Somali authorities have been expected to deliver an ambitious programme of reform and statebuilding, including finalising the Provisional Constitution, preparing for an electoral process in 2016, and reforming public financial management as well as the security, justice and economic sectors. However, allegations of corruption remain widespread, and political infighting has seen the removal of successive prime ministers – and their cabinets – in December 2013 and December 2014. This has undermined gains and delayed political processes intended to share power and contribute to peace and stability.
In Somaliland, the authorities agreed the Somaliland Special Arrangement under the Somali New Deal Compact, which provided for further prioritisation of the National Development Plan. However, presidential and parliamentary elections originally due to take place in June 2015 were delayed to March 2017 due to a lack of preparedness. The move was heavily criticised by opposition groups, and led to increasing tensions within Somaliland.