NCC Meeting: Remaining Issues

12.09.2022: Mogadishu, Somalia

Leaders of the Federal Member States and the Federal Government gathered in Mogadishu to discuss the current impasses and disputes amongst themselves as well as the current issues facing the country.

This was the second attempt by Villa Somalia to hold an NCC summit. A planned event intended to take place back in August failed to happen due to tensions between leaders.

There are a myriad of issues currently on the table with the elephant in the room being the dispute over the distribution of financial aid from international partners as trust between FMSs and the FGS has reached its lowest point in five years.

Let’s take a look at some of the main issues at hand:

Distribution of Financial Aid

Last month, the Ministries of Finance of all the Federal Member States (FMS) cut ties with the Federal Ministry of Finance, citing that the Federal Government (FGS) was unwilling to implement five financial agreements signed in 2019 and 2020 between the FGS-FMS on how financial aid and donations ought to be distributed by Mogadishu. Instead, FMS accused Mogadishu of “violating the agreed upon terms and conditions” of the aforementioned agreements.

The agreements stipulate that the FMSs are entitled to 40% of the total sum with the FGS left with 60%. It is reported that the FGS initially offered each FMS $2 million of the $130 million provided by the World Bank which resulted in the backlash Villa Somalia received.

Talks between Federal and State Finance Ministries took place on September 5th in Mogadishu. It was reported that the Federal Ministry of Finance was elucidating that all previous agreements signed during the Presidency of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo including the 60/40 distribution agreement will be nullified. This was rejected by State Finance Ministries.

In addition to this, the Federal State of Puntland also wants a larger share than other FMS, citing to its size and influence within Somalia.

There is also the issue of drought funds currently being held by Mogadishu. It is confirmed that over $7 million in drought relief funds is currently being held in the Central Bank of Somalia (CBS) with Villa Somalia adamant that the funds not be released directly to FMSs at this current time despite the severe droughts across the country. Instead, FMS want this money immediately released and in accordance with previous agreements which has already been rejected by Villa Somalia.

Should the FGS accept FMS terms?

The reality is that while many point out corruption in Mogadishu, there is higher levels of corruption within FMS. Unlike Mogadishu where there is some kind of accountability, albeit minimal, there is absolutely no form of accountability within FMS. As a result, there is a highly likely chance that the 40% of the donation funds will go into individual pockets rather than benefit the local populations of these FMSs.

For instance, in the Federal State of Hirshabelle, President Ali Gudlawe appointed up to 80 Ministers in a Federal state that remains heavily divided, under siege from Al-Shabab and an increasingly dire humanitarian situation. Most funds will be taken to Jowhar.

Now, with the FGS needing money to fund the SNA and other security agencies as well as paying salaries of all government employees, $78 million is not enough. If the 40% heading to FMS is not being put to good use, some of it can be used to pay military salaries and support the humanitarian aid effort among other things.

Term Extensions

Long-time Jubaland leader Ahmed Madobe extended his term for another year following the passage of a bill by the Jubaland State Parliament last month. Madobe becomes the second FMS leader after Laftagareen of South West State (SWS) who also extended his term following the approval of the SWS State Parliament. Reports have also emerged that Galmudug leader, Ahmed Qoor-Qoor is also seeking an extension to his term in the coming days via Galmudug State Parliament.

The fact that Villa Somalia made no comment on the extension of Madobe’s term indicate to many critics that Mogadishu approved the term extensions which has angered many opponents of Ahmed Madobe in Jubaland. Furthermore, the simple fact Madobe’s term was accepted means that Villa Somalia has no logical grounds to oppose any other term extension amongst FMS leaders which is currently being utilised by the latter.

It is clear that FMS yield extensive power over the FGS if they are united. The reality is that the Federal system has crippled the Somali state to a handful of suited men that are squabbling over international aid donations and term extensions. The next steps taken by the central government in Mogadishu to resolve the disputes will define relations between Mogadishu and FMS over the next four years.

Fighting Al-Shabab

While many have welcomed the vigilante and self-defence militia’s formed by local across central Somalia supported by Mogadishu, many including FMS leaders have expressed concern about the handing of weapons to clan militia that could pose a security further down the line.

It is understandable as to why locals feel the need to arm themselves as the government on both State and Federal levels failed to provide the basic security needs of their citizens. The idea of locals with already minimal combat training or combat experience volunteering to fight is absolutely welcomed by all Somalis. However, the militia units must register with the Somali Federal Government like any other regular unit of the SNA force.

This ‘People’s Militia‘ would be commanded by an SNA General and would be fighting alongside the SNA and behind enemies lines as spies and infiltrators. However, we cannot endorse unaccounted for militia that are not registered with the government as such groups can form to become rebels militia.

For instance, rebels under General Xuud in the Hiiraan region of Hirshabelle have been fighting Jowhar for years now and have an interest to form a new state separate from the latter. This conflict could be exacerbated by the arming of unregistered militia by the government.

Notable Absence

Despite the attendance of FGS-FMS leaders, Puntland State leader Said Deni did not attend the meeting and instead joined via a zoom call from the regional capital of Garowe.

The rift between Garowe and Mogadishu stems from three elements:

  1. It is reported that President Mahmoud is yet to implement agreements reached in Garowe between himself and Deni a few weeks ago.
  2. Deni still feels betrayed by President Mahmoud following the latter’s actions since his election as President of Somalia such as the appointment of the PM without consultation with Garowe.
  3. Deni does not want to give President Mahmoud the opportunity to portray a united Somalia before he travels to the United States later this month.

The severity of the rift was demonstrated when it shown that President Deni of Puntland did not sign the NCC agreement due to his absence.

What Next?

President Hassan Sheikh is in a difficult situation as the FMS wrestle for the political control of the country away from Mogadishu. The President and his team must think carefully before making any further steps as it could go into two ways with one being that FMS exert too much control over the Federal government or the Federal government into a political deadlock with regional leaders which could also handicap any progress against Al-Shabab or debt relief programme.

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