Collective Action in Somalia

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Collective action in Somalia


Since the end of the Said Barre era in Somalia, the country has beenin constant political chaos. Among causes of the problems is a draftconstitution with ambiguities in its clauses, power struggle betweendifferent political and clan leaders, lack of good leadership tosteer the country forward and foreign intervention that at most timesleads to problems within the government. Given these problems, thecountry has been operating in a short-term mode. Some of the problemsthe short-term government faces are high insecurity mainly because ofterrorism, corruption fueled by non-accountability, lack of trustamongst the leaders and politicians and an economic recession. At thecenter of these problems are the President and the Prime Minister.The paper applies the game theory of collective action to solve theproblem between the “President and the Prime Minister.”

Somalia has for decades been a failed state, with endless politicaldisputes that have thrown the country into darkness. There have beenstandoffs between the Presidents and Prime Ministers since thegovernment of Mohamed Said Barre, which have heightened politicaltensions in the country. The short term government in the Country hasfaced problems such as failure to defeat the Al Shabaab (terroristgroup), widespread corruption that continues to affect the governmentand the nation at a large, lack of trust amongst the major statedonors, poor long-term, investment policies and poor job security forthe civil servants. This paper critically analyzes the differencesbetween the Prime Ministers and the Presidents after the civil warand the role of the international community and neighboring countriesin the dispute. Additionally, the paper discusses how collectiveaction between the “Prime Minister and the President” would helpin solving the problems of the short-term government.

Differencesbetween the President and Prime Minister

The paper uses the attached research results to evaluate the disputesbetween the President and the Prime Minister. The leading factors inthese disputes are the power struggle between them, controversy ofthe draft constitution that is currently being used, lack ofleadership skills and foreign intervention (international andregional intervention).

Thefirst problem that is faced by the short-term government, accordingto the research material, is corruption and unaccountability in theshort-term sector. This is because almost every official that wasnominated believed that they would stay in the office for anunlimited period, given that there was no one to monitor theiractions while in office. In Somalia, there is no accountabilityinstitution to monitor the actions of civil servants, which promoteslawlessness (Kapteijns, 2012). The research also found that powerstruggle between the high officials was one of the problems betweenthe President and the Prime Minister. The two are expected to takesides whenever there are disputes amongst the leading civil servants,and favoring even the wrong-doers is the order of the day.Additionally, lack of clarity in the Constitution is a major cause ofthe short-term controversy between the President and the PrimeMinister.

Theresearch found out that the short-term government’s disputes led toa number of problems that affect the country. One of the problems iscorruption and unaccountability in the public sector. Somalia has noanti-corruption or integrity checking bodies, which aggravates thesituation (Kapteijns, 2012 Farah, 2011). The country’s poorsecurity situation is also associated with the problems faced by theshort-term government. Al-Shabaab, one of Al-Qaeda’s affiliatecells, has continued to unleash terror, both within the boundariesand in the neighboring countries, especially Kenya and Uganda(Hansen, 2013). Additionally, it was noted that the security of thecountries is worst during power transitions. There are also highchances for change of the military whenever there is a formation ofthe new government.

Differencesbetween the two also lead to increased mistrust of the internationalcommunity, who are the key funders of the Sate. For instance, theshort-term government disputes led to the resignation of thechairperson of the Somali Central Bank due to lack of accountabilityand weak financial procedures (Charbonneau, 2014). This was coupledwith the lack of willingness from the high officials to reorganizethe public sector and eliminate all structural problems that werebecause of lack of cooperation. Given that the short-term governmenthas caused disappointment of the local and foreign investors, theproblem of public accountability continues to affect the country.

Theresearch established that about 55% of the respondents believe thatthe President is the cause of collective action problems in thegovernment. The Somali constitution gives the administrative powersto the President (Farah, 2011 Albin-Lackey, 2009 Grote &amp Roder,2012). Given this, the President dictates most of the administrativeorders and is not willing to allow the Prime Minister to implementhis plans. On the other hand, 32% of the respondents believed thatthe Prime Minister was the cause of the problem. Given the powershanded to him by the Somali draft constitution, the respondentsbelieved that the Prime Minister was not doing what he was expectedto do to form a strong government. The Prime Minister is accused ofover-engaging in destructive politics, especially in appointments,non-cooperation with the President and lack of incentive to deliver.

Roleof the Parliament

In the 20th century, parliament has been considered as oneof the strongest tools for solving conflicts. The same applies toSomalia. Ihalainen (2010) asserts that parliaments have extensiverecords for speaking and decision-making, which have however not beenexploited in most countries facing political crises. For the case ofthe Somali conflict between the President and the Prime Minister,Parliamentary sources can be used to manage the standoffs and coolthe political tensions between the two. This is because the Somalidraft constitution gives parliament to make a number of importantadministrative decisions, such as swearing in officials.Additionally, the parliamentary means can be used in internalconflict resolution, through either dialogue or collaboration withexternal mediators. Of all other means, the Somali parliament standsthe best chance of creating a mediation platform between thePresident and Prime Minister, given that their strongest politicalsupporters and advisors make up the assembly.

The Somali parliament is one of the strongest political institutionsin the country. The Federal Parliament of Somalia was formed inAugust 2012 and was sworn in the same year (Berge &amp Taddia,2013). The newly elected Somalia Prime Minister, Mr. Omar AbdiradhidAli Sharmarke, was approved by the parliament in 2014 (Faruk, 2014).Mr. Sharmake was sworn in after two previous Prime Ministers hadfallen out with the President over the cabinet make-up. According topolitical analysts, the Somali politicians have been working for along time with outside nations to come up with long lasting politicalsolutions for the country. The move to inaugurate a new PrimeMinister was considered largely as a show of cooperation and motiveto end the disputes between the President and the Prime Ministers.Approval by the Somali parliament showed that the country was movingbeyond the long and difficult processes of executive appointments,which evoked the violence and political tensions in the country.

Roleof neighboring countries

According to the research, one of the results of the disputes in theshort-term government is insecurity. Somalia is home to theAl-Shabaab hence, the terror issue has led to an armed militaryconflict in the country, further worsening the relationship betweenthe President and Prime Minister, when it comes to finding solutionsfor the same. Going back to 1991, the downfall of Said Barre resultedin an ugly power struggle and clan clashes. Two factions were formed,one backing the pro tem President and the other backing theChairperson the Somali Congress (United Nations, 2015). Since then,the tradition of taking sides between the President, and otherexecutive members led to rising hostilities, leading to loss of livesand growth of the Al-Shabaab terror group.

Insolving the security problem, the neighboring countries, specificallyKenya, Rwanda and Uganda stepped in (Kumssa, William, Jones, 2011).The first steps of action were mediating between the politicalleaders of the country, headed by the President and the PrimeMinister. In November 2013, the Kenyan and Somali governmentparticipated in the meeting of High Commissioners Global Initiativeon Somali refugees, which the then Somali Prime Minister visited theKenyan Daadab refugee camp to facilitate dialogue (UNHCR, 2015). Suchmeetings between the mediators and the Somali leaders have beenconducted to help solve short-term government problems in thecountry. Additionally, through agreements with the neighboringcountries and the Somali government, armed troops were brought in2011 to deal with the rising threat to security posed by the terroroutfit Al-Shabaab (Lewis, 2014).

Roleof the international community

One of the biggest steps by the international community in ending theshort-term government disputes in Somalia is accepting the incomingPresidents. By acknowledging and internationally accepting him as arepresentative of the Somali government, the international communitylays ground for dialogue amongst the Somali political leaders,including the Prime Minister himself. In a number of occasions, thePresident has accused the Prime Minister of poor performance, and anumber of ministers take orders from the President instead of thePrime Minister (Hussein &amp Sheikh, 2014).

Therefore, it is clear that the problems are because of theconstitution’s ambiguity. In this light, participation in theconstitution-making process by the international community is one ofthe steps in solving the short-term government problems (Dautrich &ampYalof, 2015 Miller &amp Auon, 2010). The international communityhas over time provided platform for negotiation amongst the Somalipolitical leaders and gave support in terms of logistics and advice.The Presidents and the Prime Ministers have over time since thepost-war period been engaged in active negotiations, which are aimedat providing lasting solutions to the conflict. According to popularopinion by political analysts and other stakeholders, a strategicmove, which encompasses collaboration between the two, is analternative to solving the differences.


Thetable below shows results of research about collective action inSomalia.

Collective action usually arises during





dismissal of officials




Lack of Collective Action often is caused by



Prime minster


Third part


How often collective action problems end

Mutual understanding


One’s Dismissal


Third party interference


Solutions of collective action problem

Bargaining &amp mutual understanding


Hierarchy &amp Rules


Equity payoffs


Third party mediator


According to 55% of the respondents, lack of collective actions insolving short-term government disputes is the President’s fault.32% fault the Prime Minister, while 13% believe that the thirdparties (mediators) are to blame. A majority believe that collectiveaction calls arise mainly during the nomination of the civilservants, 13% believe that it arises during reshuffles of the cabinetand other civil servants. 22% thought that collective action happenedfollowing the dismissal of officials while the least percentagebelieved that collective action was due to government contracts.

Collectiveaction ended in a number of ways. However, the least percentagebelieved that collective action ended in mutual understanding betweenthe parties. Most thought that collective action ended in one’sdismissal, while 21% were of the opinion that collective action endedwith third party interference. There are a number of solutions tocollective action problems in Somalia. 73% of the collective actionproblems ended up in bargaining and mutual understanding between thewarring factions. Hierarchy and rules were the results of 12% of thecollective action efforts, and equity payoffs accounted for 9% of thesame. Third party mediators came in because of 6% of the collectiveaction efforts.

Logicof collective action and strategic model

The constructing logic of collective action is sharing of collectivegoods in a manner that all the participants benefit equally from(Olson, 2009). According to the creator of the logic, Olson Mancur,all parties may strongly show desire and benefit from a collectivegroup. However, under normal circumstances, they may not be in aposition to take individual action to achieve that collective good.This implies that they find it appropriate to act against thecollective interest. Olson’s logic of collective action would helpin the modeling of the decision-making process of the two mainactors, the President, and the Prime Minister. Despite the fact thathis analysis is not explicitly strategic, the idea of collectiveaction in Somalia would work very well in strategic settings. Just asThomas Schelling asserts, a strategic move would help both sides toachieve desirable outcomes (Schelling, 2007). Whenever there is anentry of third party intervention, the President, and the PrimeMinister’s men, end up losing their positions, both in thegovernment and as negotiation players, worsening the situation.

Manyanalysts have agreed that the logic of collective action applies verywell to political interventions. The study backs the opinion that itis better to conceive political interventions spearheaded by the twoin terms of private goods and strategic action. This would greatlybenefit the players and other stakeholders to solve the short-termgovernment crisis that Somalia currently faces. In particular, thebenefit each party gets is a function of the outcome of thecollective action, of which a number of other factors such asregional and international intervention are included. In Somalia, theregional and international third party players (Bercovitch &ampJackson, 2009) have spearheaded the most successful negotiations.However, it is time that the local leaders, especially the Presidentand the Prime Minister, took control of the collective action toyield results best suited to the local situation.

According to the research results, collective action problems ariseduring the nomination of civil servants. As the process starts, thePresident picks his men, and the Prime Minister follows suit. In theend, political temperatures are aggravated, and the administration isthrown into chaos. According to Olson, group size, and group behaviorare some of the considerations of collective action (Olson, 2009).Olson asserts that social pressure is a negative incentive and thatlarge groups can work better only if they are federal. In the case ofSomali politics, there are a number of clans that want to berepresented in the government. This is the reason the Presidentendorses different individuals other than those endorsed by the PrimeMinister. However, by considering that the parliament is a federalone, the collective action by the President, and the Prime Ministercan be structured to come up with a long-lasting solution to theproblem of selection.

The draft constitution, power struggle, lack of leadership andforeign intervention are some of the causes of short-term governmentin Somalia, which lead to problems such as security, corruption, lackof trust and economic recession. These are the main causes ofinstability in the region. According to IGAD, both the President andthe Prime Minister are in a position, through collective action, toprovide substantial solutions to these problems (IGAD, 2010). Theonly way to do this is by putting aside their differences, whichaggravate the causes and effects, and focus on finding a long lastingsolution. Through consultations and active participation of all thestakeholders, the nation can begin with implementing a workingconstitution, which resolves all the administrative ambiguitiescurrently experienced. Just as Olson asserts, collective action ispossible when it is made compulsory and when it is for the people’sinterest (Olson, 2009). In the case of Somalia, it is time that boththe President and the Prime Minister took collective action to solvethe problem.


In conclusion, the paper has discussed the short-term problems thatare faced by Somalia. The President and the Prime Minister are at thecenter of the political power struggles that continue to throw thecountry into turmoil. Additionally, the draft constitution’sambiguity does little to help the situation. It has been with theintervention of the regional and international communities that thecountry has been able to figure out temporary solutions. However, forlong-lasting solutions to be implemented, there needs to becollective action by the President and the Prime Minister. Situationsleading to political conflicts between the President and the PrimeMinister have been discussed and analyzed. In the light of this,bargaining and mutual understanding between the two has been found tobe the only substantial solution to ending the short-term governmentproblems.


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