Security contract with shadowy US company will not eliminate pirates from Somalia's coastline

By Mohamud Uluso


Two recent events have terribly shattered the hope and trust of many people in the future of the Transitional

Federal Government of Somalia (TFG).

First was the signing of the two-year contract of $55 million on November 25, 2005 in Nairobi, Kenya, between the TFG and a United States-based company called Top Cat Marine Security Inc. The suspicious contract allows the company to deal with rising cases of pirate attacks off the coast of Somalia that have, in the recent past, caused alarm across the world.

Apart from the pledge to investigate the root cause of the upsurge of piracy activities after the formation of the TFG in Nairobi in October 2004, the contract constitutes a major travesty and wrongdoing.

There is no indication that the Government followed minimum legal standards, rules and regulations required for awarding such a contract.

As a matter of fact, the overall security plan for Somalia, including the protection of the coast, should be presented to and endorsed by the United Nations Security Council because Somalia has been under UN arms embargo since 1993.

The general consensus is that the contract is not valid and should not be implemented.

Records from the US Bankruptcy Court of District of New Jersey indicates that Mr Peter J Casini, the head of the firm, has been associated with six failed businesses ventures between 1992 to July 2001.

For those interested, the reference court case is Mr Peter J Casini debtor/plaintiff V Timothy Graustein, defendant.

What is more worrying is the fact that there are no details about the contents of the contract since the TFG of Somalia is yet to embrace the constitutional obligations of transparency and accountability in its operations.

How will the TFG pay for the contract when it's pleading for foreign aid to help it function? The Treasury is completely empty and there is no possibility of collecting revenue in the foreseeable future.

Moreover, donors refused to allow the TFG to manage donated funds for lack of trust. In nutshell, the creditworthiness of TFG is currently zero. A payment from donor assistance is a long shot.

In addition, many countries, including the United States of America, do not recognise the TFG and it cannot enter an enforceable contract on behalf of the Somali people with an American company.

The second event is related to the request by the TFG to friendly neighbouring governments to collect custom duties on all goods exported to Somalia. This absurd request demonstrates the failure of TFG leadership to concentrate on gaining popular support and legitimacy so as to collect tax and other revenues within the country.

The payment of taxes established by Parliamentary Acts is a national duty of citizens when the government is serving the interest and protection of the general public in the framework of the rule of law. No foreign government can collect custom duty on behalf of the Somali government.

The crux of the matter is that the President should foster dialogue and reconciliation to build trust and unity among Somali people after many years of civil strife.

Unity cannot be achieved through propaganda or meetings with foreign delegations, intolerance to criticism or culture of rewarding sycophancy. This is the TFG's main challenge.

The writer is a former Governor of the Central Bank of Somalia



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