Gurmad Position Paper № 5 (July 1, 2015) – Corruption, Malfeasance, and the Somali State Resources

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Gurmad2Since the fall of the Somali state in 1991, the Somali body politic has been plagued by waves of political maladies, some driven by outside factors, others by domestic ones. The legacies of foreign interference, the cruelties of the civil war and the horrors of anarchy—in  the midst of a new phenomenon of global terrorism—have all taken a terrible toll on the Somali people over the past two and half decades. Yet, Somalis at home and in the Diaspora have never given up the hope that these challenges can be overcome and that a robust foundation can be laid down for the nation’s future.

Certainly the language of the Provisional Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia with respect to the inclusive representation of the populace, the need for social justice, the inviolability of the sovereignty and unity of the republic, and the promotion of “human rights, the rule of law, general standards of international law, justice, participatory consultative and inclusive government, and the separation of powers between the legislature, executive and an independent judiciary, in order to ensure accountability, efficiency and responsiveness to the interests of the people,” eloquently speaks to the noble aspirations of the Somali people.          

Gurmad does not consider these provisions to be merely inconsequential words. These provisions are guarantees to which policymakers and civil servants are beholden. When Gurmad and likeminded observers take notice of initiatives which are not in keeping with these covenants, we are duty-bound to respond and take action, and it is precisely for this reason that Gurmad promulgates this paper.

Let, therefore, all malfeasant Somali officials, policymakers and their international partners be put on notice that institutionalized corruption under color of law will not be tolerated by the Somali people.

Institutionalized Corruption — The Contemporary Picture

The Somali Constitution, with its guarantees regarding “accountability, efficiency and responsiveness to the interests of the people” and its Article 111C mandates the establishment of an Anti-Corruption Commission, is designed to establish a credible federal government while forestalling the continuation of institutionalized corruption. It is with considerable chagrin that Gurmad finds that neither of these goals were achieved.

As we observed in our May 24, 2015 publication “A New 2016 Political Agenda for Somalia,” Somalia finds itself at a nightmarish juncture in our modern history. Moreover, the unfortunate specter of graft, corruption, and influence peddling continues to make its appearance on the Somali political stage.

Despite Somalia’s status as a signatory to the African Union Convention on Preventing and Combating Corruption — a status which, despite the lack of parliamentary ratification, creates an obligation to refrain, in good faith, from acts that would defeat the object and purpose of the treaty — corruption is being neither prevented nor combated, but rather encouraged and even accelerated by the looming 2016 elections, as public officeholders pursue short-term profit catch-as-catch-can. Over the last few years, public land has been illegally sold to private investors and foreign entities, with the effect that nearly all public land in Mogadishu has been surreptitiously converted into private properties.  Companies like the London-based Soma Oil and Gas (which is backed by the Russian oligarch Alexander Djaparidze), have inked offshore and onshore exploration deals despite the fact that Somali engineers involved with the East Africa Energy Forum have “spoken out against Soma’s ability to garner broad rights and privileges when its credibility and capacity is under scrutiny.”

Perhaps most distressingly, the Somali government has proclaimed its territorial waters to extend only 12 nautical miles, contrary to law No. 37 of September 10, 1972, which expressly states Somalia’s territorial sea to extend 200 nautical miles. Neighboring countries are busy annexing parts of Somalia by building walls inside Somali territory and claiming Somalia’s territorial waters as their own. Instead of defending Somali sovereignty to the hilt, for the benefit of the nation’s security in the diplomatic, naval, economic, and environmental arenas, the government has preferred to pursue deals with international opportunists and make illegal EEZ proclamations. Meanwhile, although Somalia is locked in a long-running territorial dispute with Kenya, one which has made it into the International Court of Justice, even this bilateral matter is not free from outside meddling and the miasma of corruption. In 2013, soon after the Somali president unilaterally submitted an illegal proclamation that reduces the territorial waters of Somalia, the United Nations Monitoring Group for Somalia included in its report the expected result of such proclamation:

“31. Once Somalia adopts the EEZ under the UNCLOS regime, Somalia and Kenya would be required to initiate a separate process to negotiate a mutually acceptable maritime boundary. This would open the possibility of an adjustment of the maritime boundary from its perpendicular position towards a position following the line of latitude. Such a shift would effectively place some if not all of the disputed licenses mentioned above back into Kenyan waters. It is for this reason that on 8 October 2011 the Somali MPs voted down attempts to introduce an EEZ during the Roadmap process. … 33. The Monitoring Group has obtained information of attempts by the Norwegian Government to influence Somali parliamentarians and other FGS officials to adopt the EEZ for Somalia, which, as explained above, would lead to a separate process of redrawing of the maritime boundary towards a line of latitude.”

The entire matter, with its conflicts of interest and unspoken, but increasingly evident agendas, is one with enormous ramifications for the future of the Somali state and its people. Gurmad and likeminded organizations have taken notice and intend to hold those engaged in malfeasance in this and other regards fully accountable.

Conclusion

Gurmad has, in recent months, been active in making specific recommendations to the Somali government, detailing measures that would help ensure peace, stability, and development in the run-up to the expected 2016 political transition, including the establishment of electoral processes, the rectification of the legal status of the unconstitutionally constituted interim regional administrations, the completion of the various constitutional mandates, and the demand for the exclusion of frontline states from AMISOM forces given their apparent conflict of interest. At this juncture, however, concerns over widespread graft, corruption, and malfeasance by domestic policymakers, foreign governments, and other international actors have become so profound that the members and delegates of Gurmad are compelled to make the following announcements:

  1. Gurmad underscores the importance of protecting, at all costs, the sovereignty, independence, national unity and territorial integrity of Somalia.
  2. Gurmad urges the Somali government to ensure the timely submission of a comprehensive Memorial to the ICJ by the stipulated deadline of July 13, 2015. The Somali territorial Sea remains delimited according to the provisions of Law No. 37 of 10 September, 1972 and includes the portion of the sea to the extent of 200 nautical miles.
  3. Pursuant to the decision of the Somali parliament on October 8, 2011, no federal institution in Somalia- the presidency, cabinet, parliament or regional administration- has the mandate to alter, review, or engage in negotiations with anyone regarding Somalia’s territorial waters, airspace and land borders. Any act to the contrary is treason against Somalia.
  4. The legality and binding force of all contracts, international agreements, proclamations and memorandums of understanding signed by any Somali governmental authority after the fall of the Somali state in 1991 remain highly questionable and shall eventually be subject to strict legislative and judicial scrutiny once democratically constituted and competent legislative and judicial institutions are in place in Somalia. In the meantime, Gurmad urges all governmental entities to ensure compliance with applicable laws and to uphold the supreme national interest when exercising any contractual or treaty–making powers.
  5. Foreign governments, corporations and individuals who have exploited corrupt individuals and circumstances will be subject to the same contractual nullifications.
  6. Politicians and civil servants at all levels of Somali government must be held accountable for all acts of treason, corruption, graft, jobbery, and breach of public trust.
  7. Profits derived illegally, even if derived under color of law, must escheat to the state.
  8. Gurmad urges the Somali parliament to impeach and relieve of his/her duties any official who engages in treasonous acts against the territorial integrity, sovereignty and independence of Somalia.

In a world of “baleful malice,” “evil fortune,” and “outrage,” as Ismaaciil Mire, the commander of the Sayid Mohamed Abdullah Hassan’s army, (c. 1860-1951) put it in his poem “Change of Command,” “vigilance above all is what I urge on you,” for “tomorrow a long journey begins for us, along a road that will be full of dust.” The journey ahead may indeed prove difficult, but Gurmad and allied organizations, activists, and individuals are in the process of vigilantly analyzing the situation on the ground and formulating the principles and actionable programs needed to make significant short-, medium-, and long-term progress in Somalia. Gurmad for its part will, in the coming months, be taking the measures necessary to ensure transparency and accountability for domestic and international actors alike.

Malfeasors in the Horn of Africa and in the halls of power throughout the world should consider themselves put on notice that the kind of corrupt misconduct all too prevalent in past years and at present can no longer be tolerated by Somalis of good conscience, and that future behavior should be tailored accordingly.