Dialogue on Accountability and Transparency

On 14 May 2013, Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon’s office released a media statement titled “Somali Government gives green light to the New Deal process launched in Mogadishu today.” The Prime Minister said at the launching event of the New Deal: “We are committed to collaborative and effective engagement with the international community and country-level stakeholders …This will ensure sufficient representation of all individuals and organizations who can influence the New Deal implementation for Somalia.” The Somali civil society is a key stakeholder. The Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS), Somalia’s first think tank based in Mogadishu, has initiated a dialogue aimed at building trust between the donors, the Somali government and the Somali people through enhancing accountability and trust.

The New Deal proposes to transform the relationship between donors and fragile states through new development arrangement. It stresses that the donors fund the priorities of aid-recipients. Both donors and fragile states commit practicing transparency in both the provision and use of development assistance. Donors pledge to be accountable to recipients for the timely delivery of promised support; recipients promise to be accountable to citizens for aid effective use.

The provisional constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia provides for the tools that can be used to ensure transparency and accountability. It clearly stipulates that the public has the right to access information held by the state and that the Federal Parliament is to enact a law ensuring the right to access information. In addition to this, the constitution provides that the Anti-Corruption Commission should be established, its mandate being to ‘investigate allegations of corruption that implicate the public sector. The commission has also been given the power to ‘conduct enquiries at its own discretion and is not required to act only upon a complaint.’

Dialogue between Government and Civil Society

The President, the Prime Minister, and the Speaker of the Parliament have all voiced support for the principles of accountability and transparency. Donors expect it and citizens demand it. Therefore, there should be a regular dialogue between government and civil society to discuss what government should do to foster transparency and accountability and how civil society can use the information disclosed by greater transparency to hold government accountable. To that end, the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies (HIPS) has initiated such a dialogue. On 30 May, HIPS held the first of series of events on “transparency and accountability” in Mogadishu.

Civil society leaders who participated in the discussion highlighted the need to continue this dialogue, and to nudge the Somali Federal Government to become more transparent and accountable to its citizens. Participants also urged the international community to be equally transparent and accountable about their activities to both the government and the public, in order to build trust and cooperation.