In contrast to his predecessors, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has exceptionally exacerbated the personalization and politicization of the federal security institutions to the point that the President, the Prime Minister (PM), and the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) became de facto triple-headed authority of the country without constitutional basis.
Consequently, NISA is an instrument to ensure the security and longevity of the troika rule and not the security of the state and the people of Somalia. The rule of the trio, who are not accountable to any internal institutions, spoiled the Somali politics and governance.
President Farmajo has contemptuously defied the clear instructions of the constitution and placed cronies, incompetent, and corrupt individuals at the helm of the security institutions – NISA, the federal police force (FPF), the Somali National Army (SNA), and the custodial corps (CC) – for their notoriety. The civilian ministers for internal security and defense entrusted with the oversight responsibilities to check the activities of the security institutions in conformity with the law became figureheads obsequious to their subordinate.
The President, the PM, and different foreign actors control special paramilitary forces not authorized in the constitution or by legislative act. That is an additional threat to the security and safety of the Somali citizens, particularly to those who challenge or criticize the government policies, abuses, and propaganda.
The constitutional guardrails against the abuses, transgressions, and prevarications of the security institutions have been overridden. So, Somali citizens have been deprived of their legitimate right to seek redress for the constitutional violations by the security institutions of the federal government which increasingly becomes authoritarian.
The international support to the security institutions to adhere to the rule of law utterly failed to change the brutal mindset and infectious culture and practices inherited from the security institutions of the autocratic regime of President Mohamed Siad Barre. The public confidence in the security institutions is terribly low for various reasons.
After the national accord translated into the provisional constitution, the institutions for security, justice, and public finance management are the foundational pillars for rebuilding the Somali state to respond to the aspirations and needs of the Somali people. Therefore, the establishment of the security institutions in accordance with the principles and provisions of the constitution was utmost priority.
Article 127 of the constitution lists the principles that guide the security forces and they include professionalism, discipline, and patriotism, respect for the rule of law, democratic institutions and fundamental rights, transparency and accountability, and political neutrality. However, the security institutions are yet to obey the thirty two (32) citizens’ rights listed under chapter 2, title one of the constitution.
The constitution specifies the responsibilities of SNA, FPF, and federal member state police force (FMS-PF) but doesn’t mention the responsibilities of NISA for right reasons. As corollary, the right path was to temporarily abolish NISA, while the Criminal Investigative Division (CID) of the Federal Police would carry out the intelligence and investigative tasks of NISA. That step would have represented a cutoff period of the abusive culture inherited from the ousted autocratic regime. Secondly, it would have reduced the duplication tasks between FPF-CID and NISA.
Third, it would have paved the way for a study about the appropriate institution(s) to replace NISA for domestic and foreign intelligence services needed for law enforcement, defense, and national policies. NISA is an institution that should not be subservient to foreign country, dependent on foreign financial support, and in bed with decision makers and local politicians.
Despite persistent indications that President Farmajo and Prime Minister Hassan Kheire are determined to either extend their term in office for 2 or 4 more years or to cheat at any cost the upcoming election to remain in power, the Somali people are looking forward to participate a credible political election in 2020.
The elections conducted by the federal government in Southwest and Galmudug states have been tarnished by unfair process, plain corruption, and broad daylight fraud for securing predetermined outcomes. Jubbaland fought back. The obstruction of credible election in 2020/2021 will be a blow to the continuity and legitimacy of the federal government for not gaining the respect and support of large segment of the Somali population. That forebodes disaster for the unity, peace, and governance of Somalia. Somalis are on edge.
It’s time to weed out the cronies and corrupt officials from the leadership of the security institutions as necessary precondition for credible, free and fair election in 2020. Otherwise, the International Partners are wasting time and their taxpayers’ resources and knowingly are promoting autocracy, corruption, injustice, and bad governance in Somalia.
Mohamed Haji Abdullahi Ingiriis, PhD Candidate and Research Fellow at University of Oxford, authored an article, titled “Predatory politics and Personalization of Power: the abuses and Misuses of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) in Somalia,” published January 22, 2020 by the African Affairs Journal. The article provides historical background and update information about the widespread persistent malfeasance of post-conflict NISA and recommends,
“To avert dictatorial rule and create accountable state institutions, the security structure must be aligned and reconfigured in a way that can facilitate the reconciliation and restoration of peace in Somalia. He adds that refashioning the whole security sector requires innovative approaches to rehabilitating and reforming NISA to serve not the political players but the ordinary people. Without configuring the security sector in a way that paves the way for peace and reconciliation among the war-torn Somalia, NISA will remain one among many authoritarian instruments of political control.”
In all probability, President Farmajo will not listen the recommendations of Mohamed Haji Ingiriis nor will weed out his cronies and corrupt officials from the security institutions nor will dismantle NISA to allow the establishment of new agency compatible with the democratic system of governance. As a last resort, the international partners currently supporting the federal government bear the responsibility of making their voice heard urgently to prevent authoritarianism that will provoke social uprising in Somalia.
Dr. Mohamud Uluso