n African Renaissance - The Somali Civil War : an anatomy of state collapse and the progress towards its reconstitution

Volume 9 Number 3-4
  • ISSN : 1744-2532
  • E-ISSN: 2516-5305


This paper traces the history and dynamics of state collapse and anarchy in Somalia. It argues that the disintegration of the state is associated with the country's political, demographic and ethnic contestations, as well as failure in post-colonial state-building - in particular, the construction of prebendal state in the post-colonial era. The paper identifies external intervention, as well as a host of political, social, humanitarian factors as the underpinning antecedents of state collapse and the rise of warlords, pirates and militias. The paper also examines the prospects of state reconstruction and peacebuilding in the light of recent events: the conduct of democratic elections, the establishment of an AU-led and UN-supported peacekeeping mission in Somalia, the mission's defeat of and recapture of the port of Kismayo and vast territories in the hinterland; the relocation of UN humanitarian mission from Nairobi to Mogadishu and the nascent resolve amongst the country's governing elites to collectively chart the country's new future. The paper notes that international support plays a significant role in reinforcing domestic ownership of the peace process and suggests that international stakeholders and Somalis, both at home and in the Diaspora are confident on the re-emergence of a stable and democratic Somalia. There exists a clear progress in state reconstruction and democratic institution-building in Somalia. Nevertheless, it is argued that the apparent and unresolved fragmentation of Somalia into splinter states poses a challenge to the re-emergence of a single state in the mould of its pre-1991 order. A lot depends on how domestic, regional and international stakeholders handle the prevailing situation, but the legitimate splinter of the country into two or three stable sovereign states, remains an option that ought to be explored; this remain to be seen in the coming years and decades.

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