Several editorials have been published in recent weeks about the contentious process to ratify the draft version of the Somali constitution–the best of which may be found by Abdullahi Jamaa (Somalia Report) or Abdulwahid Sheikh Osman Qalinle (Pambazuka).
Criticisms of the constitution include that the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) elites and the international community–rather than local communities–have driven the process, or that Somalia’s security issues should trump all else, or point out that the constitution is full of loopholes and contradictions.
These are honest and powerful critiques, which raises the question: will the international community amend the process or continue to push a document that both influential political actors and “everyday” Somalis may ignore once “ratified”?
Follow the Money
There is likely no going back at this point in the Roadmap process led by the UN and AU. The international community does not want to spend more money to amend the process or unravel the brittle social support in Somalia it has built so far.
With respect to the TFG, the Somali government often regards the international community as its constituency rather than residents of the regions that it represents. Since the TFG receives its salary from the former, it has little interest in making substantive criticisms against the process.
Additionally, many TFG members are well-positioned to retain power in any future political framework and are satisfied with the status quo. Others are former (and current) warlords who generally have prioritized their individual economic and security interests.
The Somaliland Angle
Somaliland is unrestrained by the Roadmap process because the country is funded predominately by internal taxes and remittances from the Diaspora.
As a result, it has largely determined its political evolution, even without recognition as an official state–a luxury afforded to Somalia.
Even though Somaliland is dealing with major rows over political openness and disputed regions of governance, it has at least the financial capacity (and, therefore, ultimate authority) to address these crises in its own way.
Re-paving the Road
Unless Somalis fund–as a means to lead–the processes that determine country’s fate, outside forces will continue to influence significantly Somalia’s political future.