Inside Story
Somalia's political restart
Can yet another attempt to install a strong central government after years of chaos really succeed?
Last Modified: 22 Aug 2012 10:15

Somalia is on the brink of a new chapter after 215 new members of parliament were sworn in this week as eight years of UN-backed transitional federal governance came to an end on Monday.

"My hope is that there are enough parliamentarians who are relatively new and some of whom who have a great deal of integrity and competence; if those people can come through the process – then the promise is quite substantial. But if the UN maintains the same kind of old corrupt rules then this opportunity will be turned into ash."

- Abdi Ismail Samatar, a Somali professor of geography

Many hope this will mark an end to years of a largely ineffective central government and after two decades of lawlessness and violence, hopes are high in the capital, Mogadishu.

The parliament will now have to choose a president. But many of the 24 candidates running to become the first post-transition president were part of a transitional government that has been hammered by corruption allegations after a leaked UN report last month alleged endemic corruption in the Somali government. The World Bank says that 68 per cent of government revenue in 2009-2010 went unaccounted for.

Somalia has lacked a stable central government since the country's 1991 civil war and in the years since it has experienced ongoing clan violence, the rise of armed groups, invasion by outside forces, widespread banditry and famine.

"I think the UN might think we want to get this done but when you talk to Somalis in general, they will tell you that the UN is dictating the Somali solution and telling Somalis what to do rather than letting Somalis decide what’s best for Somalia."

- Jamal Osman, a Somali filmmaker

Al Jazeera's Nazanine Moshiri, reporting from Mogadishu, says: "Territorial gains against the armed group al-Shabab mean, for the first time in eight years, a new Somali government will have some control outside Mogadishu. It will also have more of a say over its finances and political institutions. Somalia has taken its first step towards stability. These politicians now need to prove they are up to the job."

So, will this be the end of political and social chaos in Somalia? And how different will the new government be to the transitional federal government that has been accused of massive corruption?

To discuss this Inside Story, with presenter Mike Hanna, is joined by guests: Jamal Osman, an award-winning Somali journalist and filmmaker; Afyare Elmi, a Somali political analyst and professor of international politics at Qatar University; and Abdi Ismail Samatar, a professor of geography at the University of Minnesota.

"It could have been [an opportunity for optimism] but it seems the UN, which controls the process, has missed another important opportunity simply because of the way the process has been handled. It recycles the status quo. When you look at the number of parliamentarians - more 50 per cent are coming from the old parliament and this is simply because of too much intervention with the process and the Constitution making was the same as that. I think this will compromise the legitimacy of the outcome of this as a result."

Afyare Elmi, a professor of international politics



Al Jazeera
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