Somalia has retained a Washington lobbying firm at a cost of $20,000 per month to persuade the Obama administration to continue aiding a transitional government criticised as thoroughly corrupt and ineffective.
Park Strategies, headed by a former United States senator from New York, will try to gain State Department support for a one-year extension of the transitional federal government mandate due to expire in August, says John Zagame, a lobbyist with the firm.
“There’s no way the US will support a three-year extension,” Mr Zagame says.
The Somali Parliament has voted to give itself that long a lifespan — a move condemned by Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Johnnie Carson.
Many analysts suggest that the US end its backing of the TFG because the transitional government has shown itself incapable of making progress.
Mr Zagame acknowledged that Mr Carson’s recent criticisms of the TFG are “correct.”
Mr Carson charged that the government is failing to provide citizens with basic services, to reach accords with groups opposed to the al Shabaab Islamist insurgency and to consolidate politically the gains made militarily in Mogadishu by the AU Mission in Somalia.
But the lobbyist argues that Somalia Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, in office for the past five months, is bringing a new “honesty and transparency” to the TFG’s operations.
Mr Mohamed “offers a better chance that US money won’t go down a rat hole of corruption,” Mr Zagame declares.
It was Mr Mohamed’s personal connection with a Park Strategies director that led the TFG to choose this firm as its first-ever representative in Washington.