Cameron cautions against rush to elections in fragile nations

Former PM says it can be a mistake to push for western-style Democracy.

David Cameron: 'We have overloaded [fragile countries] with our own unachievable priorities, rather then focusing on a few simple things like security and economics' © AFP

By Laura Hughes.

It can be a mistake to push fragile countries into “winner take all” democratic elections, said David Cameron, ahead of a new report that seeks to turn long-held assumptions about foreign interventions “entirely on their head”.

He said that “building the blocks of democracy” was more important than “the act of holding elections themselves”.

Mr Cameron said there was a “total lack of realism” among developed countries and donors when it comes to assisting countries blighted by economic failure and conflict.

He pointed out that a number of fragile states such as Burundi and Somalia are in fact poorer today than they were 40 years ago, despite decades of foreign aid.

“We have overloaded [fragile countries] with our own unachievable priorities, rather then focusing on a few simple things like security and economics,” he said.

“I am a convinced democrat, but the truth is that in too many countries, particularly when they’re recovering from conflict, there has been a rush to multi-party elections.”

Mr Cameron made the comments ahead of the launch of a report by the LSE-University of Oxford commission on State Fragility, Growth and Development, of which he is chair.

Governments based on power-sharing, such as that in Afghanistan, offer the most viable path to peace © Reuters

The report criticised the “standard short-term strategy” of seeking to build the institutions of western democracy “immediately” and “insisting on early elections”.

“This impedes power sharing: since elections produce a winner and a loser, any power-sharing is seen as transient,” it said.

When societies are riven by deep identity divisions, the report argues this strategy inevitably fails.

“Inadvertently, the international community has arrived at a strategy of insisting that a fragile society much hold an election, and then insisting that it should not count the votes,” it added.

Instead, it suggested that inclusive governments based on power-sharing offer the most viable path to peace in countries experiencing open conflict, such as Libya, Yemen and Afghanistan.

“I think we will be accused of being anti-election, but that is not what we are saying,” Mr Cameron said. “We are saying you have to take time and it might be quite a lot of time. It’s quite hard to find examples where early elections have helped to drive change.”

Mr Cameron instead called for international players to spend more time and effort on the political settlement, power-sharing, and dealing with the fundamental conflicts at the heart of each individual country.

“A provisional government is sometimes the better option than rushing to multi-party elections,” he said.

“The very act of telling them what our priorities and policy ideas are has actually undermined these countries’ own institutions, which ultimately must be the things that we help these fragile states to build themselves up.

“What we ought to be saying is ‘you produce your plan’, we will back your plan, but we will replace policy conditions with governance conditions,” Mr Cameron said. “If the money we give you is wasted and if there isn’t a clear audit trail you won’t get any more.

Advertisements

My Journey to Kellogg College

Hamse Abdilahi

Hamse Abdilahi is a Somali community activist and writer. He is a postgraduate student at Kellogg College, University of Oxford, studying for an MSc in Sustainable Urban Development. Here he tells us about his childhood in Somaliland and he shares ten lessons which he learnt on his way to being accepted to study at the University of Oxford.

Hamse is also former Mandela Washington Fellow at the University of Delaware and a former Chevening Scholar at Bristol University.

I watched the majestic sight of sunrise from my half-empty Oxford-bound train window. Trying to figure out how my long educational journey culminated to that very dawn, I had a deep sense of appreciation for the great people who helped me along the way. The train’s automatic voice kept calling out the various stops it made along the Bristol-Oxford route. Even the cold October morning couldn’t dent my excitement to report to Oxford University for my course registration. As the train reached my destination, I grabbed my luggage and headed out of the small but otherwise packed train station. I patiently waited for a taxi at the parking space outside and it didn’t take long when a black taxi arrived. ‘Where?’ asked the taxi driver. ‘Kellogg College’ I answered.’ ‘Oh Kellogg’ smiled the taxi driver implying his familiarity with my destination.

At Kellogg College, I grabbed a cup of coffee and a biscuit. Students, dressed in black gown and hat, a white shirt and bow tie, continued to gather at the college for the matriculation day. Matriculation is an elaborate ceremony and an old Oxford tradition which is normally done in the first week of the Michaelmas Term – the first term according to the Oxford language. It is the last step of the University’s long and rigorous admission process where students are formally admitted to the various colleges they were accepted to. We marched to the Sheldonian Theatre where the Vice Chancellor read a centuries-old brief speech in Latin and English welcoming students to the university and wishing them a successful life. We then marched back to Kellogg for a group photo, lunch and conversations with students and college staff over tea. Despite the long day, it was a sigh of relief for me, for I was finally and officially an Oxford University student and a proud member of Kellogg College. But my pride was tempered by humility because of my very humble background.

Kellogg College is Oxford University’s largest college by student size and the most international of all of Oxford University’s 38 colleges. A college does not mean a department or a faculty as many would expect, but rather an autonomous and self-governing corporation within the university. It is like a government within a government. The collegiate system entails that all teaching staff and students must belong to one of the colleges. Colleges have substantial amount of responsibilities which include administering houses of residence and tutorials. A typical Oxford college would comprise of a dining hall, a chapel, a library, a college bar, postgraduate and junior common rooms, lodgings for the dons etc. However, the university departments run the traditional tasks such as organising lectures, examinations, laboratories and central libraries.

My long journey to Kellogg College wasn’t all rosy. Raised by my maternal grandmother, I started school in a roofless building in Hargeisa in the early nineties. The city suffered a complete and spectacular devastation in the Somalia civil war. Occasionally, on my way back from school, I would come across people bleeding profusely after their legs were blown off by mines. I watched them helplessly as they were carried away on to the back of truck to be transferred to the nearest hospital which had little or no medical supplies. ‘Maybe I would help them when I grow up’ I would console myself and head home. The roofless school was short-lived as another civil war broke out forcing us to leave the town. Luckily, in several months, the war stopped, and my schooling was never interrupted again. This, however, was not the case in southern Somalia, where the conflict has endured and lasted to date.

The secessionist agenda which Somaliland pursued following the seemingly irreversible state collapse in Somalia has had the most dramatic effect on me and my generation. In one way, it spared us from the violence that consumed the rest of Somalia, but it also left us in an awkward situation. The idea of living in an internationally unrecognised state is unusual. There are only a little over a dozen unrecognised or de facto states in the world. Lacking official international recognition means that there are no diplomatic missions in the country, you can’t travel outside the country since you lack a valid and recognised passport, the government cannot go into formal trade deal nor binding international agreements with other nations and international organisations. In other words, you are stuck, the country is stuck, and everybody is stuck. And ever since, the country grappled with poverty and painstaking state building in the face of international diplomatic isolation. Lacking in infrastructure and near non-existent public services compounded the austere life in Somaliland. Working hard in school was the key to escaping not only the poverty but also breaking free from the shackles of that diplomatic ‘cage’. Despite such circumstances, I feel fortunate that both my undergrad and postgrad studies came through a merit-based scholarship all of which were competed nationally.

How did you end up at Oxford? Did you ever imagine going to Oxford? These are the common questions people ask me every time. Of course, I imagined being at Oxford, but I can’t point out a single factor which I can single-handedly attribute to my acceptance to Oxford. My life was a product of hard work, but also of luck, like meeting the right people who believed in me at the right time, giving me opportunity at the right time, all of whom were important in the trajectory I had over the years. My fundamental being hasn’t shifted after my acceptance to Oxford. I am still the same person.

Below are ten key lessons which I picked up along the way and through them you can understand the principles that sustained me during my journey to Oxford.

1 Master your English

Very early on, I understood that if I want to be successful in my studies, I have to master the English language. But having a good command of the English language wasn’t easy. English is my third language. Arabic was the medium of instruction in my primary school. Somali was the only language spoken at home, in the local media and in the wider society. As I progressed to high school, an afternoon English tuition class greatly helped me. I started to read English grammar books to improve my English. But it was my avid listening to the BBC World Service radio which proved most crucial in improving my English. The BBC radio programs also significantly improved my understanding of the world, my thinking horizon and my perspective on many global issues. The level of one’s English affects the quality of writing and the effectiveness of communication with people, all of which are critical in achieving success. Having good English has a bigger significance than a simple communication in today’s world. Most academic books are written in English, many of the best universities in the world are in English-speaking countries of the Western world, the world’s two biggest financial capitals are in English speaking countries and most international organisations have English as their medium of communication. I am also aware that I come from a British colony and I resent the English colonisation of my homeland, but I am also aware that English is key in navigating the current world order which, I believe, is not going to change anytime soon at least in my lifetime. I think there is nothing wrong with learning your former colonial master’s language and use it to your own advantage. As I passed by the Oxford English Centre one afternoon, it reminded me the Oxford English Dictionary, the world’s most trusted English dictionary. I held the Oxford dictionary in high esteem as it helped me greatly when I was an English language student.

2 Focus, aim for the best and believe that you are meant and destined for greatness

Focus as you plan to the end. But aim for the best and for the highest. According to most studies, great people and historic figures led normal lives before they took a dramatic decision at various times in their lifetime which made them great. Many of them did after the age of forty while others did it considerably later in their lifetime. This means that anybody can achieve greatness anytime in their lifetime. I want to be great for a great cause. But greatness can come in many forms. From a meaningful community service and empowering the girl child to freeing your people from the shackles of poverty and destitution and fighting environmental degradation, the opportunities to be great are endless. A genuine belief that you can be great and that you should do great things must underpin one’s own view in life. This is important because it affects your day-to-day decisions and priorities in life. Believing you are destined for greatness affects the way you conduct yourself and prevents you from bad behaviour such as political corruption.

3 Build your confidence to the level of believing you are the best in the world

Many people often ask me where I got that confidence. Again, it is a difficult answer. I wasn’t a confident person all my life. I have got my own insecurities and uncertainties. In my early years in school, I was shy and unable to speak before class. But I strove not to let them undermine my confidence to the level that I would believe that someone else can do better than I could. Today, I am invited to speak before many people. Confidence can be grown. But how does someone build his/her confidence? This is the million-dollar question. My answer is simple though controversial- first believe you are the best in the world in your respective field or area of interest. I won’t be apologetic on this point however absurd it may sound to many people. But one cannot be good on everything. Instead you’ve to identify a particular area of interest. You’ve to believe that you have the potential to be the best in that area. You also need to voraciously read about that field, contact the leading scholars in the field, chat with them, keep up with the latest literature, critique the direction of the current debate and come up with an original hypothesis or scientific discovery if you are in scientific research field. Overconfidence shouldn’t lead you to arrogance and close-mindedness, but be dynamic and open to change when facts against your position pile up. Be open to learn, but deep inside, believe you are the best while not uttering it publicly.

4 Genuinely acknowledge your biggest fear

My biggest fear in life wasn’t a financial or a political career failure; it was simply leading an unremarkable life and dying in obscurity. To be honest, I haven’t publicly shared it before, but I know it is my biggest fear. I always wanted to leave behind a meaningful legacy for my people and the world. I have always had a deep disdain for mediocrity. While I am not sure what that legacy would turn out in the end or whether I would even live long enough to see it or make it, but it is my hope that it would be profound. It is this very fear that drives me every day to move ahead so that I can stay ahead.

5 Develop a fierce competitive spirit

My competitive nature started largely with working hard to perform well in school, but it stayed with me right through to adulthood. Later in life, it became instrumental in motivating me to compete for more important matters in life than finishing top in class. A competition for a job, a scholarship or a cash grant would motivate me and I would put all my effort to win it. If I won it, it felt exhilarating, when I failed to get it, I would attribute it to my approach to the competition but not to my ability. I hardly took it personally or lost momentum. And I would most likely run again for the same thing or run for a bigger job, a better scholarship or larger grant, and most likely I would land on one. For example, when I first applied to Oxford University, my application was rejected. I had two options then: to give up my pursuit for a place at Oxford and believe that maybe I am not an Oxford university material because I am not white and rich, or to refine my application and apply for a slightly different course in a different department, which I did. When I submitted my second application, in less than a week, I was invited to an interview by the university which was successful. So, my lesson is if you lose a competition, don’t take it personally, but blame your approach to the competition, revisit it and run again, chances are that you will nail it this time and harder. You will finally reach a stage where you will enjoy any competition regardless of winning a trophy. Some competitions and applications cost money. Don’t be too mean and withhold a small entry or application fee. I often see people who can’t take a small financial risk to go for a big prize. My advice is don’t be mean. You’ve to financially stretch yourself to go places. Also you’ve to push the boundaries and prove your critics wrong. Don’t just settle for a good job and a place at university, go for the best job, create the best business, aim to join the best university, meet the best people. In other words, push the boundaries and more importantly prove your critics wrong. There is nothing that gives me more pleasure and satisfaction than not only proving my critics wrong but also very wrong. When I had the car accident and during the lengthy hospitalisation that ensued, many people wrote me off. I did my best to prove them wrong. When I left the hospital, I was a changed man. Since then, I went back to work, travelled to New York, London and Moscow without carrying a North American or European passport. I had the opportunity to shake hands with President Obama in Washington D.C in 2015. I won a postgraduate British scholarship, I got accepted to Oxford, and more importantly I got married to the love of my life whom I am happily living with in the UK. I am not listing my progress to boast about it, but I am sure they utterly surprised my critics.

6 Believe that you can rise above the circumstance of your birth

Coming from Somaliland isn’t only coming from a place ranked bottom of the international socio-economic index. It simply does not exist on the world map. If you complain of coming from a poor country, I complain of coming from a country that doesn’t officially exist where you feel an outsider to the world order. If you complain of living in a city council house and live on state benefits, I never saw a welfare state in my life. If you complain of going to poor schools in poor neighbourhoods, I went to a roofless school and I suppose yours had some roof at least. If you complain about belonging to a patriarchal society, I too had my first female teacher in college. But when you rise above such circumstances, don’t just appear in the media and criticize your community wholesale as many people do. Instead, go to the grass root level, talk to the people and change your society from within and help them be more forward thinking so that they embrace positive change.

7 Be open-minded

I grew up in a homogenous society where everybody looked like me, spoke the same language and belonged to the same faith. I struggled to be an open-minded person. Getting rid of certain prejudices wasn’t easy. But finally, I like to believe that I did away with them or at least most of them. I like to engage with people, have simple conversations, ask them about their countries’ culture and history. After every discussion, I realise how we, as humans, are astonishingly similar in our emotions, psychology and aspirations.

8 Use your background to your own advantage and work twice harder

If you are the only black person in a predominantly white institution or the only woman in an all-male workforce or the only disabled person in all-able-bodied environment, use that to your own advantage. When I was interviewed for my UK postgraduate course by a British diplomat in Hargeisa in 2016, she asked me why I chose to do MSc in Public Policy at Bristol University. I told her that I trained to be a clinician in my undergraduate degree but shortly after leaving medical college and a few months into my medical practice, I was involved in a car accident and I spent many months in hospital, and that the accident made me experience both sides of care. I also told her that I came to understand to importance of having efficient public service such as health care and education and that is why I wanted to do MSc in Public Policy. ‘I want to make our government efficient’ I told her. ‘Ok, got it’ nodded the apparently convinced diplomat, and in a couple of months, she sent me the acceptance letter to come to the UK and do my course at Bristol University. In this example, I used the accident, a tragic moment in my life, to my own advantage and it worked.

9 Believe there are better days ahead and seize the opportunity very early

My life has seen its fair share of adversity from poverty and displacement to physical pain and lengthy hospitalisation and most of them in childhood and at the prime of my youth. I have always had a deep sense of belief that it is not yet over and that there is a better day ahead. I don’t mean that I am a tough man and that I can overcome any a serious challenge that life throws at me, but I strive to be optimistic about life. There are many times that I feel blue. I often get rejections to my applications which also disappoint me. As humans, we are emotional beings. There is nothing wrong with feeling sad, angry and depressed in certain situations, but continue to believe there is a great day ahead of you. Such belief must be grounded on unwavering hope that there is not only a better day ahead, but also a much better day. Seizing opportunities is also crucial. Some opportunities come and go like a flock of birds and sometimes never to return. For example, when I came back from America after finishing my summer fellowship at the University of Delaware, I understood it was the right moment for applying for an overseas postgraduate scholarship. Also, when I finished my masters at Bristol University, I knew this was the right moment to apply for my dream university – Oxford. It is crucial that someone recognises these opportunities as they pass, and never let them slip away, for we live in a very competitive world as one needs to outsmart his counterpart.

10 Don’t be intimidated by the disempowering statistics and big names

As joining Oxford was always a childhood dream, I used to read the news and reports about Oxford University. But most of the reports demotivated me. For example, I read that 42 out of the 56 UK prime ministers went to Oxbridge universities- Oxford and Cambridge with Oxford’s Christ Church College producing 13 UK prime ministers, more than any other Oxbridge college. The two universities have also produced many world leaders such as Bill Clinton and Australia’s Tony Abbott. Most UK members of parliament, most high-profile BBC journalists, most UK cabinet members, most CEOs of companies went to Oxbridge. Even the Governor of the Bank of England went to Oxford. These staggering statistics demonstrated the class culture entrenched in the English society of which I do not belong. But I kept believing that I can defy this culture and still go to Oxford. So, when you are told to lower your expectation because of your background, don’t bow to that. Never believe in a disempowering statistic or data.

After its sham election, Kenya can do better. And so can we

We should encourage more negotiated democracies across the country

EFP party 2

By: Shitemi Khamadi, for Mandera County Forum

The decision by the Garre Council of Elders do bar all current elected leaders from running in the 2017 General Elections has surprised many. Never in our history has a non-political entity made such a bold step which hit national news. But it is a positive meant that will guarantee a bright future for the county.
Already some elected leaders including Senator Billow Kerrow and Women Representative Fathia Mahbub have accepted the verdict. Senator Kerrow added that this decision was arrived at in 2012. The leaders received the blessings of the largest council in the County prior to being elected but there was a rider to it. Other affected leaders are five MPs and 18 Members of the County Assembly to ensure that the 20 Garre community sub-clans have a chance at leading.
What the Council has done is to allow for healthy relationships among the various sub-clans of the county. Mandera County has not known peace for a long time. Early this month, The Electoral Risk Mapping, a map of conflicts hotspots by IEBC listed 17 counties, including Mandera as counties with high number of conflicts. The conflicts include cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, robberies and agro-pastoralist.
Devolution has birthed millionaires at the county. Earlier, only MPs would be seen with guzzling vehicles and big houses but these are now easily being noticed in local leaders at the counties like MCAs, County Executive Officers and Governors.
This creates a scenario where people feel that the only thing these leaders do is embezzle tax payers’ money. There could be hard working elected officials who honestly earn their keep, but certainly there is a slight change in their lifestyles ever since being elected.
When these positions are made possible to others through negotiated democracies, or elsewhere called rotational democracy, the people thrive. Voters will see themselves liberated because they will know that they will get fresh leaders to serve them. Communities within the society will feel part of the whole because domination by bigger ethnicities or clans will reduce.
Our electoral system is such that it is fueled by money. The IEBC has just set campaign financing limits for various candidates also depending on areas of the country. But two things still stand out. One the monies are exorbitant for anyone to make it, you have to be well oiled. Secondly, elections operate under a cash system making it difficult to monitor and report malpractices.

mandera-efp-rally-
This scenario gifts clans and communities with large representation within their areas of jurisdiction and the wealthy. Women for instance are the most disadvantaged because too few are economically empowered. But what a rotational system allows them is to nurture their leadership ambitions because some day, their wishes will be fulfilled because the communities they live in are alive to the need for them to peacefully and progressively co-exist.

efp 3
A negotiated democracy is not agreeable to all. The rich who have stolen their way to wealth will want to protect this illegally acquired gain. They would even want to bribe such institutions as council of elders to retain power. But it also fails to faithfully allow voters to elect anyone who they want. For instance, an elected leader who has diligently served the people should be rewarded by being re-elected.
What a negotiated settlement does is overlook these issues and settle on the bigger picture. It provides for a framework to ensure equal playing field, especially to those who do not have incumbency or may not be monied or from large ethnicities to guarantee them votes. But it also distances itself from tyranny of numbers which often blights servant leaders from ascending to the throne.
Switzerland has had a rotational presidency for many years and this is one of the ways it has lived peacefully and thrived. It is not a system that can work everywhere because of diverse issues that societies face. In an African setting where leaders do not like to relinquish power even when their terms have expired, rotational leadership is herculean.
It is possible that the next few years will see tremendous growth in Mandera County. Other communities or Counties may not have such powerful and instrumental institutions like Mandera but that does not mean they cannot agree on how they should be led. As an example, Mandera County is offering hope for a better, promising country.

WHAT AMERICA’S NEXT PRESIDENT NEEDS TO KNOW ABOUT AFRICA

Unfortunately, the “Africa Rising” narrative is starting to unravel. Having lived in Africa from 2005–15, I can report that the “good news” story was too simplistic. The story of Africa nowadays is anything but. Today, we clearly see that the bumps in the road including stagnating economies, electoral violence and expanding extremist groups. Africa needs improved continued assistance at this crucial point in their development, and the next U.S. president should be there to make sure the continent reaches its true potential.

1. Improve Obama’s new African initiatives.

President Obama started a whole range of new African programs in addition to those of George W. Bush. The list is long—really long. To name a few: Power Africa, the Young African Leaders Initiative, the U.S.-Africa Leaders Summit, Feed the Future, the African Peacekeeping Rapid Response Partnership and the Security Governance Initiative. Some are run by the State Department, some by the Department of Defense, others by USAID or the Department of Commerce. Some work with the African Union (AU), others with the private sector.

The point I’m making is that a strong foundation for the new U.S. president to work with already exists. However, it appears that U.S. security and development engagement in Africa lacks coordination, and consists of a whole range of programs with unknown success rates. This is a complex issue, especially with different budgets controlled by different agencies. Some programs have limited personnel. There is an inability to transfer funds. Different committees have oversight. It’s a big hairy beast, and something that requires attention by the new administration, as well as the legislative branch.

These new African programs rightfully aim for the long term and, to be fair, will take time to start. However, a clearer picture has to emerge over the next few years, showing whether the programs’ goals and objectives are being met. Moreover, these ambitions should be closely aligned with the United Nations’ 2030 Agenda, as well as the AU’s 2063 Agenda, where possible.

1 Simple Trick Could Remove Cellulite Forever

These Celebs Take Vacations to a Whole New Level!
One of the biggest challenges for all involved is finding the resources. Getting money for prevention is no easy task compared to funding a response. “Preventive work is probably the hardest” to find resources for, according to Sarah Sewall, under secretary for civilian security at the State Department. The State Department recently launched a pilot program to prevent the growth of terrorism—set to complement the ongoing U.S. counterterrorism efforts in Africa, both totaling around $200 million a year.

2. Continue to support the AU and African militaries with long-term capacity building, including more intelligence gathering.

Africa needs to be secure and stable for the other development initiatives to take hold. Foreign countries and media love to cast a negative light on America’s militarization of the continent, but a properly functioning and respected security sector and rule of law (military, law-enforcement and judicial) is paramount to Africa’s development. The United States assists Africa in too many ways to list. Threat Reduction in Africa (TRIA) is one such program that discusses Africa’s existing capabilities, noteworthy gaps and future plans regarding border security and other issues. TRIA specifically holds education, networking and training workshops like ones recently held in Kenya. These are often a rare opportunity for African countries to meet their domestic counterparts in other agencies, assess overall capabilities, and identify areas of mutual interest.

There are other U.S.-led regional programs, like the Trans-Sahara Counterterrorism Partnership, that have some overlap, as well as U.S.-assisted joint regional programs. The Global Counterterrorism Forum is an informal, multilateral platform that promotes a strategic, long-term approach to countering terrorism and violent extremist ideologies. Under this umbrella also fall the Capacity Building Working Groups for the Horn of Africa and the Sahel, each having its own regional specific objectives. Another entity is the African Centre for the Study and Research on Terrorism (ACSRT) in Algiers, a structure of the AU Commission.

Many African nations are starting to cooperate in countering cross-border terrorist or criminal threats through sharing intelligence. Kenya’s common intelligence center in Nairobi is used for joint training on investigation skills and others. A more recent regional intelligence center, similar to Kenya’s, was established in Kampala, Uganda, which is supported by the AU and seeks to prevent possible attacks by terrorist groups. Following the May 2014 summit on terrorism, Nigeria, Benin, Cameroon, Chad and Niger, with the help of the United States, the UK and France, set up the External Intelligence Response Unit on Terrorism to move towards increased intelligence coordination in matters of security and conflict. It hasn’t always been smooth sailing, with problems like lack of trust between countries, but these entities are a vast improvement compared to the state of affairs just a few short years ago.

The United States does not currently have bilateral intelligence-sharing agreements with all African countries. Full intelligence-sharing agreements, like the U.S.-Israel cyber defense and intelligence agreement signed in June 2016, allowing intelligence information to shared automatically, are quite rare. An example of high-level U.S.-Africa cooperation is the United States and Senegal establishing the first-ever Combined/Joint Intelligence Fusion Cell in Africa and signing a Defense Cooperation Agreement, the first such pact in a decade with an African nation. Partial agreements, like the U.S.-Nigerian document in 2014 where the U.S. military would share some intelligence—including aerial imagery—with Nigeria, but not all raw U.S. intelligence, are more common.

America should continue carrying out joint training exercises and expanding its network of small bases across East, North and West Africa. The United States is an expert in signals intelligence, with operations all over the continent. These activities combined are crucial in providing intelligence and operational support. Other recommendations can be put forth to African countries, like America helping to fund a continent-wide intelligence organization, under the AU, perhaps utilizing the current ACSRT, to provide items like daily briefs to intelligence chiefs in all the African state.

3. Never forget the African perspective.Continental and regional support is important, but the United States should not forget other individual economic and political national interests. Washington can do this better by expanding its formal strategic partnerships beyond Angola, Nigeria, South Africa and the AU Commission. Increased dialogue will allow relationships to evolve into a true partnership rather than a simple donor–recipient one. A frequent criticism I heard during my ten years in Africa was America is a fair-weather friend. America causes trouble, throws money at a problem, leaves and comes back. In Africans’ mind, you just never know when it comes to Washington. Moreover, to many Africans, countering al-Shabaab, Islamic State or AQIM is a lower priority than for Americans. They are more worried about weather patterns so that their crops can grow, or if they can see a doctor to get their antiretroviral drugs.

The United States needs to respect and support the African people, not the strongman, whose time will eventually run out. This should be combined with a clearer message that America is indeed here for the long term, and that security assistance is not creating refugees, increasing militia groups and bringing more weapons into the continent, but helping create safe, stable and prosperous nations.

Dr. Scott Firsing is an Adjunct Professor at the University of North Carolina in Wilmington in the Department of Public and International Affairs.

Source: http://nationalinterest.org/

We should encourage more negotiated democracies across the country

mosesShitemi Khamadi

The decision by the Garre Council of Elders do bar all current elected leaders from running in the 2017 General Elections has surprised many. Never in our history has a non-political entity made such a bold step which hit national news. But it is a positive meant that will guarantee a bright future for the county.

Already some elected leaders including Senator Billow Kerrow and Women Representative Fathia Mahbub have accepted the verdict. Senator Kerrow added that this decision was arrived at in 2012. The leaders received the blessings of the largest council in the County prior to being elected but there was a rider to it. Other affected leaders are five MPs and 18 Members of the County Assembly to ensure that the 20 Garre community sub-clans have a chance at leading.

What the Council has done is to allow for healthy relationships among the various sub-clans of the county. Mandera County has not known peace for a long time. Early this month, The Electoral Risk Mapping, a map of conflicts hotspots by IEBC listed 17 counties, including Mandera as counties with high number of conflicts. The conflicts include cattle rustling, terror attacks, protests and riots, ethnic clashes, robberies and agro-pastoralist.

Devolution has birthed millionaires at the county. Earlier, only MPs would be seen with guzzling vehicles and big houses but these are now easily being noticed in local leaders at the counties like MCAs, County Executive Officers and Governors.

This creates a scenario where people feel that the only thing these leaders do is embezzle tax payers’ money. There could be hard working elected officials who honestly earn their keep, but certainly there is a slight change in their lifestyles ever since being elected.

When these positions are made possible to others through negotiated democracies, or elsewhere called rotational democracy, the people thrive. Voters will see themselves liberated because they will know that they will get fresh leaders to serve them. Communities within the society will feel part of the whole because domination by bigger ethnicities or clans will reduce.

Our electoral system is such that it is fueled by money. The IEBC has just set campaign financing limits for various candidates also depending on areas of the country. But two things still stand out. One the monies are exorbitant for anyone to make it, you have to be well oiled. Secondly, elections operate under a cash system making it difficult to monitor and report malpractices.

This scenario gifts clans and communities with large representation within their areas of jurisdiction and the wealthy. Women for instance are the most disadvantaged because too few are economically empowered. But what a rotational system allows them is to nurture their leadership ambitions because some day, their wishes will be fulfilled because the communities they live in are alive to the need for them to peacefully and progressively co-exist.

A negotiated democracy is not agreeable to all. The rich who have stolen their way to wealth will want to protect this illegally acquired gain. They would even want to bribe such institutions as council of elders to retain power. But it also fails to faithfully allow voters to elect anyone who they want. For instance, an elected leader who has diligently served the people should be rewarded by being re-elected.

What a negotiated settlement does is overlook these issues and settle on the bigger picture. It provides for a framework to ensure equal playing field, especially to those who do not have incumbency or may not be monied or from large ethnicities to guarantee them votes. But it also distances itself from tyranny of numbers which often blights servant leaders from ascending to the throne.

Switzerland has had a rotational presidency for many years and this is one of the ways it has lived peacefully and thrived. It is not a system that can work everywhere because of diverse issues that societies face. In an African setting where leaders do not like to relinquish power even when their terms have expired, rotational leadership is herculean.

It is possible that the next few years will see tremendous growth in Mandera County. Other communities or Counties may not have such powerful and instrumental institutions like Mandera but that does not mean they cannot agree on how they should be led. As an example, Mandera County is offering hope for a better, promising country.

Shitemi Khamadi is a practicing journalist. he writes on governance, economics and development in Kenya.

Transforming Mandera County’s Deadly Reputation For Maternal Health

By Siddharth Chatterjee: Representative at UNFPA Kenya

dismo4

For many women in Mandera County a hard to reach, insecure and arid part of North Eastern Kenya, the story of life from childhood to adulthood is one about sheer pain and struggle for survival.

As little girls, they undergo female genital mutilation (FGM), a painful carving out of the external genitalia that leaves them with lifelong physical and psychological scars.

Most girls will be married off when barely into their teens, forcing them to drop out of school, their immature bodies thrust into the world of childbearing.

As a result, Mandera – just a two-hour flight from the dynamic, modern East African hub of Nairobi – has maternal mortality ratio of 3,795 deaths per 100,000 live births that surpasses that of wartime Sierra Leon (2000 deaths per 100,000 live births) as well as the Kenya’s national average (448 deaths per 100,000 live births).

Mandera is an example of a community marginalized combined with internecine conflicts, pockets of extremism, poor human development, cross border terrorism, which has trapped its people in poverty, misery and desperation. Cultural norms like status of the women, FGM and child marriage makes it worse. Among the poor, inequities hurt women and girls most.

However, things are looking up. Kenya’s decision to devolve government, putting much more power in the hands of local authorities, is having an impact on the ground. Indicators such as number of health facilities offering basic maternal and child health, and the number of women giving birth in a health facility are improving.

Just as critical to these improvements is the recently established private sector’s coalition to transform the health landscape of this county, long considered a lost frontier.

The goal of this coalition is to develop new products and service delivery models, like community life centers (CLC) to improve maternal and new-born health among most vulnerable populations in Kenya.

An inter-agency team consisting of the Office of the President of Kenya, Ministry of Health, Kenya Red Cross, UNOCHA, Save the Children, technology company Philips, Amref, Safaricom, GlaxoSmithKlein and UNFPA visited Mandera on 13th October 2015 with the Ambassadors of Turkey and Sweden to Kenya to launch a Ministry of Health-UNFPA-Philips Innovation partnership.

The UNFPA and Philips CLC project, is expected to bring quality primary healthcare within reach of about 25,000 population with small improvements enhance that functionality of health facilities like 24-hour lighting that will allow facility deliveries to take place and sick children attended after dark. If successful, this initiative could be scaled-up and transform maternal and child health in Mandera county.

Mandera has long remained out of bounds for most international UN staff and diplomats due to insecurity. Hopefully the visit by the Ambassadors of Turkey and Sweden, who are ardent advocates of the rights of women and children, will pave the way for more visits to all the North Eastern counties which face similar challenges.

The Ambassadors spoke of their countries’ commitment to work with the county to change the narrative, especially to advance the rights and wellbeing of all women and girls.

The broader partnership which also includes Huawei, Kenya Health Care Federation, MSD, together with the United Nations’s H4+ partners will focus on the 6 counties with a high burden of maternal mortality: Wajir, Marsaibit, Lamu, Isiolo, Migori and Mandera.

The main activities in these 6 counties will include strengthening supply chain management for health commodities, increasing availability and demand for youth-friendly health services, capacity building for health professionals, youth empowerment and research. These activities be complemented by the results based financing supported through the Health Results Innovation Trust Fund managed by the World Bank.

It is also in line with the full-scale Kenyan government commitment to reduce maternal deaths and the new polices of free maternity care and user fee removal.

Kenya’s First Lady Margaret Kenyatta once remarked that “I am deeply saddened by the fact that women and children in our country die from causes that can be avoided. It doesn’t have to be this way,” she said. “This is why I am launching the ‘Beyond Zero Campaign’ which will bring prenatal and postnatal medical treatment to women and children in our country.

The dividend from healthier women will be a more educated and healthy society, with more economic opportunities and reduced exclusion which will engender peace and hopefully reduce the drivers of violent extremism.

It will be a major score for Mandera towards fulfilling the vision of UN Security Council Resolution 1325 which is about empowerment and participation of women, ending discrimination and the scourge of harmful traditional practices like FGM and child marriage.

The launch in Mandera has shown that led by the National Government and the county authorities, the development partners and the private sector have their shoulders squared for the job at hand; clearly becoming a global force for good and makes good business sense.