International community ‘complicit’ in Somali strife

By IndepthAfrica
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Jul 26th, 2012
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Mohamud M Uluso

The leaked and publicly debated report of Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) of the United Nations has uncovered an unimaginable range of predatory activities perpetrated by Somali leaders as well as by a large number of foreign actors against Somalia’s peace, stability, sovereignty, unity and self-governance.

The deep-rooted pervasive corruption and mismanagement of the leaders of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the widespread violations of UN resolutions by states, private security companies (PSCs), and private maritime security companies (PMSCs) have been well documented. The SEMG Report attests that the international community, particularly the United Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), and the International Contact Group (ICG) are accomplices to Somalia’s strife.

According to the report, TFG has no control over Somalia’s sea, air and land space. AMISOM, Ethiopia, Civil Aviation Caretaker Authority of Somalia (CACAS), Bancroft Global Development (USA), Pathfinder (SA), Sterling Corporation Services/Saracen International (UAE), numerous PSCs and PMSCs control Somali nominal authority. In one year, close to two hundred unidentified flights arrived and left in Puntland and South Central Somalia for unspecified missions.

The fundamental conclusion of 2012 SEMG report with regard to Somalia is as follows:

1. Under the Transitional Federal Institutions, the systematic misappropriation, embezzlements and outright theft of taxpayer funds have become a system of governance in Somalia, embodied in the popular phrase “Maxaa igu jira?”(“What’s in it for me?”).

2. Somalia’s prospect for stabilization and effective governance have fallen prey to political and commercial “elite” who appropriate, privatize and criminalize the core functions of the Somali State enriching themselves while perpetuating a political economy of State collapse.

For recollection, the 2011 SEMG report stated that: “The principal impediments to security and stabilization in southern Somalia are the Transitional Federal Government leadership’s lack of vision or cohesion, its endemic corruption and its failure to advance the political process.” Both reports have sufficiently discredited the false depiction by UNPOS, IGAD and ICG that TFG is a responsible and legitimate representative government of Somalia. Worse, the comment of Dr. Augustine Mahiga, head of UNPOS, about the findings of the report conveyed a message of indifference and business as usual. The continuation of the Roadmap process for ending the transition under the discredited TFG leaders is inconceivable and without merit.

CORRUPTION AND MISMANAGEMENT BY TFG LEADERS

In 2011, the Parliamentary Standing Committee of Finance, Money and Protection of Public Assets of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) presented its preliminary findings of missing funds to parliament and media after conducting an investigation of government revenue and expenditure. The investigation has been quickly terminated by the top TFG leaders. For reasons to be examined another time, UNPOS and IGAD purposefully decided to disband the parliament and establish instead a new authority composed of six individuals under the fancy name ,“Signatories of the Roadmap process.” Prime Minister Prof Abdiweli M. Ali claims this deceptive process is his brainchild.

Then, the Director of the Office of Public Finance Management Unit (PFMU) in the Office of Prime Minister Mr. Abdirizak Fartag issued an audit report indicating unaccounted and unrealized amount of $278 million dollars in 2009-2010. PM Mohamed Abdullahi “Formajo” under pressure closed down PFMU and fired the director.

For corroboration, the World Bank (WB) [1] conducted Financial Diagnostic Assessment (FDA) of the Audit Investigative Financial Report of 2009-2010 and issued a detailed report dated May 30, 2012. The WB report confirmed that $131 million ($164 million of estimated collection less $33 million declared by TFG) is uncounted for 2009-2010. The report found that the source of mismanagement originated from the fact that the power to collect and disburse public funds constitutionally vested in the Ministry of Finance, the Central Bank, the Accountant General and the Auditor General as institutions was practically exercised by the following officials:

1. Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed: President of TFG
2. Sharif Hassan Sh. Adan: Minister of Finance and Deputy Prime Minister (Speaker)
3. Abdirizak Osman Hassan “Jurile”: Minister for Post and Telecommunication
4. Abdirahman Haji Adan Ibrahim: Minister for Fisheries and Marine Resources
5. Abdirashid Mohamed Hashi: Minister of Commerce
6. Mohamed Ibrahim Habsade: Minister of Ports and Marine Transport

In addition, the 2012 SEMG report identified at least 15 Somali individuals [2] defined as “political and commercial elite” involved in various activities under investigation. The dealings of the group have been branded as cartel-style arrangement for the purpose of personal profit.

As illustrative cases, SEMG concentrated on the investigation of four transactions engaged by the TFG. First, it analyzed, transcribed and endorsed the FDA of the World Bank, which discovered the missing of $131 million. Second, it investigated for evidence the mismanagement of $5 million ($3 million donated by Omani Government to the Somali National Security Agency (SNA), $1 million donated by South Sudan Government for special purpose, and $1 million paid by SKI Air Logistics after it received Mogadishu Airport Contract). Third, it probed the shady process for printing of 5 trillion banknotes in Sudan in defiance of all legal, administrative and technical procedures. And fourth, it described the corrupt handling of the project for issuing new Passport and National Identification Card. The four cases showed how TFG leaders privatized public power, institutions and services.

Surprisingly, in the face of the above revelations, TFG leaders never cared to respond satisfactorily to the accusations of rampant corruption by providing comprehensive detailed explanations of the external and domestic revenues through institutional responsibilities. To the contrary, besides sending a letter to the UN Secretary General in which he designated the Coordinator of SEMG as “Persona non grata in Somalia”, the President accused SEMG of pursuing an anti-Somali agenda. The Speaker denounced the accusations as biased and baseless, aimed at undermining his high chance of being elected to the position of President after his past political performance.

The Prime Minister praised the report and accepted the allegations against him by agreeing to provide documentation only for the $6 million linked to his name. These split reactions among the three top TFG leaders reaffirmed the central conclusion of the report consisting in the absence of TFG collective responsibility and in the lack of adherence to public finance management rules and practices. Because of the letter, SEMG recommended sanctions against President Sheikh Sharif for the obstruction of the enforcement of UN Resolutions.

PUNTLAND MARITIME POLICE FORCE (PMPF)

Puntland State has refused to cooperate with SEMG, which led to the recommendation of sanctions against Puntland authorities as their act of refusal constituted a potential obstruction of the work of SEMG. Nevertheless, the report discussed in detail the operations of Sterling Corporate Services (SCS) (formerly Saracen International) which trains, equips and supervises 1,000 Puntland Maritime Police Force (PMPF) with funds provided by the United Arab Emirates (UAE). Without proper consultation, the Office of the Prime Minister authorized SCS to select soldiers from Somali National Army (SNA) to join PFMP training at their camp in Bosaso. AMISOM overruled PM’s authorization and stopped the selection process.

There are many entities involved in the support of PMPF [3]. The report points out that SCS and other companies are linked to Mr. Lafras Luitigingh, owner of Saracen International. Recently, Col Oliver North visited Puntland. TFG received from Saracen International the medical center – Villa Somalia Emergency Trauma Centre, established in the Presidential compound. The Fund was paid by UAE.

SEMG argues that PMPF represents a profitable enterprise for relatives and close associates of Puntland president who directly controls it contrary to article 94 of Puntland Constitution. Therefore, SEMG considers the external support of PMPF illegal and breach of UN Security Council Resolutions.

SUPPORT TO TFG AND PUNTLAND INTELLIGENCE SERVICES

The report brought to light that the TFG National Security Agency (NSA) commands a 1,500-strong force, well-equipped and trained, that comes under the direct supervision of the president. The US Government supports NSA and Puntland Intelligence Services (PIS). Also Sudan supports NSA. SEMG is of the opinion that the support of NSA and PIS is in violation of UN Security Council resolutions.

VIOLATIONS OF ARMS EMBARGO

More than 15 countries and international organizations are accused of violations against UN arms embargo on Somalia. The presence of Ethiopian forces in Somalia is considered as a violation of UN resolutions. Another violator of UN resolution is the United Nations Mine Action Services (UNMAS) which has contracted a UK-based company, Human Recognition System, to conduct biometric registration including personal details, fingerprints, photograph and DNA, of Somali National Army (SNA) soldiers, aimed at improving payment of stipends.

CONCLUSION

The Parliamentary Committee, the PFMU, the World Bank and SEMG have graphically presented the pervasive corruption and mismanagement within TFG. But UNPOS and IGAD backed by IC successfully flouted those accusations and stuck with their corrupted TFG leaders to implement a divisive Roadmap process. The Security Council and the IC must re-examine the facts and problems identified in the SEMG report for course correction and new policy prescription that will help peace, security and stability in Somalia. The predatory activities underway in Somalia must be stopped and the focus should be shifted to State building that delivers State functions throughout Somalia.

Mohamud M Uluso can be reached at mohamuduluso@gmail.com

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