Despite deepening dissatisfaction among international donors regarding Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), the would-be state will likely stick around for at least another seventeen months.
Following an extraordinary meeting held in Mogadishu on Sunday afternoon, the cabinet of the transitional federal government of Somalia resolved an extension of one year for all the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs).
According to the government spokesman, Mr Abdi Haji Gobdon, the ministers considered the current situation in Somalia and decided to propose an extension for a period of one year for the parliament, cabinet, presidency and the judiciary, effective 21st of August this year.
The extension will last till August 2012 to give the Somali government an opportunity to deliver on promises made to secure a number of pending tasks.
The delay also means postponing presidential elections scheduled for this August. The postponement plays into the TFG’s internal politics, favoring a faction led by incumbent President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed over a rival faction that had hoped to defeat him at the polls.
How will the TFG’s decision affect its relations with the international community? On the one hand, the extension may receive a poor welcome in Washington, London, and elsewhere. The adoption of this one-year extension follows the Transitional Federal Parliament’s decision, taken in February, to grant itself a three-year extension. That move disgruntled the US, the UK, and the UN, among others. On the other hand, world powers who are at their wits’ end in seeking a solution for Somalia’s twenty-year crisis may be quietly relieved to put hard choices and confrontations off by a year. I predict they will allow the extension to stand.
Going forward, then, a major factor in the TFG’s international popularity will be its fight against the Islamist rebel force al Shabab. The TFG’s current offensive against al Shabab (undertaken in partnership with the African Union Mission for Somalia or AMISOM) is not only a military operation, it is a political performance for a world audience. As the TFG has made some recent progress, more support appears to be forthcoming. Uganda and Burundi will send 4,000 more troops to Somalia, significantly boosting the 8,000-strong force already in the fight. One source also reports that the EU will donate $93 million to AMISOM (though note, for what it’s worth, that this money will not go directly to the TFG). Assuming world powers grudgingly accept the extension, the next year and a half will likely tie the TFG’s political prospects to its performance on the battlefield.