It is indeed the hope of the Somali people that rebels, warlords and Islamist militia are excluded from Somalia's new federal parliament.
With Aug. 20 only a few days away, it is becoming increasingly clear that the much anticipated and final political benchmarks of the Roadmap for End of Transition Process will not be met exactly on time. What remains is the finalization of the list of 275 MPs of Somalia's new Federal Parliament, elections for Speaker and Deputy Speakers, and President.
The most remarkable political process is the selection process for Somali MPs. The Technical Selection Committee (TSC), consisting of representatives from Somalia's various political groupings, is mandated with assisting and screening new MPs selected by a group of Somali Traditional Elders, who consult their own communities in the selection process. The TSC, as a political instrument, has already accomplished some amazing political acts vis-à-vis the stagnated political landscape of Somalia, where impunity, corruption, favoritism and lack of capacity rule the day.
Credible reports from Mogadishu say the TSC members have rejected over 70 potential legislators, based on a number of factors. Some potential candidates were rejected because of connections to clan rebel groups of the 1980s, such as SSDF, SNM and USC, while others were rejected for appearing in reports by international institutions alleging corruption, and yet others were rejected for being members of Mogadishu warlord factions or armed groups associated with Islamist groups, including Al Shabaab.
This is a new and welcome development in Somalia. A TSC consisting of nondescript Somali members have been empowered to keep strict selection criteria, as per the Garowe Principles and subsequent agreements. If the TSC empowerment remains strong, it is certain that a new federal parliament will emerge from Mogadishu that is credible and might offer a new hope for future political developments in Somalia. It is of paramount importance for the new federal parliament to be credible, because its governance decisions in the coming four years will have implications for a healthy political future in Somalia. Moreover, the incoming government will be Somalia's first permanent government in nearly 22 years, thereby bringing a new set of risks and opportunities for a nation recovering from war, disintegration and displacement.
Secondly, this development underscores the international community's growing concerns and strengthening political will in Somalia affairs. Numerous statements from the U.N., the African Union, IGAD, the E.U., U.S., U.K., and other countries indicate willingness on the part of the international community to take "appropriate actions" against political spoilers in Somalia. The TSC decision to reject potential candidate MPs is the strongest indication yet that the international community's numerous statements have real ramifications inside Somalia.
This change in world opinion is influenced, in large part, by the presence of African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM), who played a significant role and tilting the balance of power in southern Somalia in recapturing territories in Mogadishu and surrounding towns from Al Shabaab militia.
It is indeed the hope of the Somali people that rebels, warlords and Islamist militia are excluded from Somalia's new federal parliament. This creates renewed hope in a lost nation. This renewed hope creates an evolving environment that is conducive to trust, development and progress - all essential ingredients of nation building.