It has been six months since our men and women moved in to Somalia to fight Al Shabaab and protect our territory.
We successfully lobbied African Union, United Nations and European Union to have our troops as part of the AU force – Amisom – reducing the burden of the military efforts on our domestic budget. So far our troops have been successfully re-hatted. This is a great exit strategy for us, a diplomatic success story of sorts.
Also critical was the decision by the European Union to extend its naval counter-piracy operations and further authorising it, for the first time, to combat piracy on land.
Even with such successes, the gap between the military efforts and the politics in Somalia is appalling. But is there a possibility of achieving peace in Somalia after the elections are held in August this year as laid out in the Kampala Accord?
The political Roadmap adopted in Mogadishu last year has little to show in terms of meeting the benchmarks. The leaders and the international community have failed to find a solution to the parliamentary crisis that led to a breakaway group of MPs declaring Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan deposed. The impeding end of the current transition in August is causing a lot of jostling among the political leaders limiting progress in many other political issues.
In theory, the un has moved its political office (UNPOS) to Mogadishu to work more closely with the TFG, Amisom and other stakeholders but the reality on the ground is the there is no clarity as to the mandates of either of these organisations. It is clear the presence of UNPOS is too light to have any impact. Preparations for the Constituent Assembly seem to be fractured with little contribution from the UNPOS leadership.
The Transitional Federal Government is accused of being weak but it is not possible for a government to function effectively in any part of the world when it depends on handouts.
Frequent accusations on the TFG about corruption are averse. Turkey is giving the only tangible or real financial support to the TFG. The international community has never owned up to its financial pledges. The TFG cannot hold the delegates conference to chart a way forward for Somalis because it does not have money.
The necessary transitional changes agreed through a series of meetings and conferences such as Garowe 1 and Garowe 2 need to be enacted into law but this is clearly not possible until the parliamentary crisis is resolved.
We still need to achieve a negotiated political settlement on what to do with former MPs after the reduction of their numbers from 550 to 225.
provide basic needs
The role of the signatories to the Garowe Principles who have a vested interest in the top leadership in Somalia leaves many worrying over the legitimacy of this whole process.
The elders engaged in the nomination of the members to the National Constituent Assembly have not yet met and yet the timeline set for them to meet has already expired.
Amisom and IGAD have made every effort militarily to increase the territory under the control of the TFG, yet the Government has failed to take advantage of these gains to create political structures and provide basic needs to the populace. I believe they do not have the capacity to do it.
Development agencies that would in normal circumstances step in to assist the government with reconstruction are still working from Nairobi and not making any dent in the newly liberated areas. Yet, we have been able to see the work of new development partners like Turkey that are focused on assisting the people of Somalia to reap the peace dividend.
Kenya has made great leaps in the military front, yet this alone will not bring sustainable peace in Somalia. Kenya must do more to engage all parties and stakeholders in the Somalia conflict and reinvigorate effectively the political track, otherwise the sacrifices of our men and women serving in Amisom will be in vain.
The London Conference in February reminded us of what is at stake, but that momentum has been lost and seem to forget that only a political solution will lead to the complete defeat of the Al-Shabaab and the end of our military operations.
We cannot afford to be in Somalia for an indefinite period of time. It is in our interest and the IGAD members to ensure a stable government in Somalia after August. The UN has been facilitating the political process but it is clear they have run out of steam. Kenya and IGAD must own the political process as we did during Mbagathi.
By Richard Onyonka
The writer is Assistant Minister for Foreign Affairs and MP for Kitutu Chache.