The recent consultation meeting in Mogadishu on February between the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia with his Prime Minister and the Presidents of the Federal Member States of Puntland, Jubbaland and South West State and the one that has just concluded in Garowe on May 2, 2015 was an extremely useful and step forward towards the implementation of Federal System, where there was a large consensus on how ‘toestablisha forum and hold routine meetings’ between the top leaders of the Federal Government of Somalia and Presidents of Federal Member States, achieving the vision 2016, accelerating the formation of the remaining Federal States, the Somali National Defence Force integration and the independent constitutional commissions in order to finalise implementation of the federal system in the country and the need to empower states. While this discussion will be in the interests of a strongFederal Somalia, it is not given in a partisan spirit, but because of a deep and profound belief that a strong Federal System is absolutely vital to our Somali way of life.
We all want national unity where ever and when ever national unity aids in the preservation of Somalia and the security of our people. No one wants, or should want, national unity in any policy or action injurious to the best interests of the nation; in any policy which would destroy the State formation, the ‘post-transitional’ institutions and the System of Government in Somalia.
It is impossible for the nation to develop unless states develop. Can we develop a new mechanism that plans according Somalia’s strengths, empowers states, and brings on board all state formation activities, including those, which happen outside the Federal Government? Time and experience have demonstrated the Federal System of Government to be the only system, which will preserve the Somali way of life. It has built a strong Somalia. It will preserve a united Somalia.
Somali leaders; we urged you to ‘bury differences’, focus on State formation
The Federal Somali Government and State government’s structural set-ups should be fundamentally changed to achieve a truly democratic society where the rule of law reigns supreme above everyone including the presidency. The law enforcement agents like the Police, NISA, SNA, should be completely and truly independent in terms of funding and execution as it obtains in the modern world.
The long overdue establishment of National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) and Constitutional Court should be truly inclusive and completely independent in terms of funding and administration, receiving orders from no one. The judiciary both at state and federal levels, should be truly and completely independent and no state or federal executive should have any form of power/influence on the judiciary by making the appointment, promotion and dismissal of local, state and federal judges the sole responsibility of the National Judicial Commission without seeking the permission or approval from anyone.
Yes, it is clear that, in political terms, Somalia is a far more mature place than it was two decades ago. Certainly, in October 2004 in Kenya, January 2009 in Djibouti and again in September 2012 in Mogadishu, changes in administration have occurred with minimal damage to that prized principle of continuity. President Hassan is optimistic that the country will hold elections in 2016 (delivered on numerous occasions including the recent 69th UN General Assembly in New York), despite continued security and political challenges within the SFG leadership. One of the key challenges is whether there is enough time for the country to build capacity to hold fair and free elections based on universal franchise or at least an indirect election.
President Hassan will be remembered as the father of modern Somalia even by generations unborn if he can devote his remaining 18 months tenure in effecting the outstanding political reforms that will determine the success of the federalism and stabilization projects as these are the part of Vision 2016. The establishment of National Independent Electoral Commission, Constitutional Court and the constitutional referendum are fundamental structural changes within our system before the September 2016 Elections. The Federal Government also has to establish the Boundaries and Federation Commission as ‘Article 111E’ of the Formation of Independent Commissions directs and operationalize the Constitution Review and Implementation Commission to complete the Federal Constitution, to be submitted to a referendum in before March 2016. It will be foolhardy for any other party except Peace and Development Party (popularly known as the ‘Damul Jadid elites’), to win and participate in the next elections without these fundamental changes. The result will be as usual — selection through imposition — NOT election! We cannot achieve the Federal status overnight but we need to start from the right direction just like Nepal.
Share the Federal and State Responsibilities for Standard Setting and Implementation;
In Somalia federal system of government there are many policy areas in which both federal and state governments need to exercise regulatory authority. Under the Structure of the State in the articles of “48 and 49”, the Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia underpins the creation of remaining Federal Member States and recognise the role of existing ones that will together constitute the Federal Republic of Somalia. In enacting new legislation in these shared areas, the Federal Parliament faces a key challenge: how to provide federal protections, guarantees, or benefits while preserving an appropriate balance between federal and state governments responsibility.
State efforts can be directed toward federal or nationally shared regulatory objectives through a variety of arrangements, each of which reflects; (1) a mechanism for defining and issuing regulations or standards and (2) assignment of responsibility for implementing or enforcing the regulations or standards. Regulatory and standard-setting mechanisms with the potential need for achieving nationwide coverage shall include:
- To establish unified Somali federal security institutions; Somaliland can provide an assistance, advice and experience in this process in better position than the Republic of Burundi and the Federal Somali Government can lead the process with the other Federal Member States;
- Constitution Review process and its Referendum in before March 2016; Puntland can lead this initiative as Puntland is a forefront Federal Member State that advocating the Federalism a more 16 years and have much to offer in terms the Constitutional Reveiw. Furthermore, Puntland has a more similar State constitution with the Federal Provisional Constitution than any other entity including Jubbaland and South West State;
- State formation and achieving the federation process; Jubbaland and South West State qualified to lead this formation in terms of early implementation of federation system with the Federal Government will provide advices and inputs.
- The Implementation of Vision 2016 and Elections; The Federal Government should lead, prepare and hold the national elections in September 2016 through integrated elections policies with full inclusive consultations for the States. Starting with the establishment of the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) and its policy framework, as well as ensuring the coordination and coherence of international electoral support provided to Somali partners.
Shared implementation brings a number of operational easy achievements. These include feeling full of inclusiveness and ownership, decreasing the allocated costs of implementing this process as the States has much to offer in terms financing and resources. Under the sharing the Federal and States responsibilities, as under the grant mechanism, States have the primary responsibility and authority for implementing federally approved standards — and a key role in framing them as well.
For the record; to me, the blue light or the five-pointed white “Star of Unity” in Somalia’s national flag represents the potential of the “blue revolution”, or the “ocean economy” to reborn and rise again. For those who live by the Horn of Africa, security threats is not an issue of debate but a serious threat to existence. We must assume leadership in our region and call for more concerted and fairer East Africa action to address the challenge of security issues. Our new federal system can be an important instrument for pursuing our vision for a sustainable and prosperous future for Somalia. The time has come for a strong grouping around the East Africa. We should pursue this with new vigour in the years ahead.
Our goal is to seek a leadership of trust and transparency; respect for our Federal Constitution principles, State arrangements and agreements by all our States; sensitivity to each other’s interests; peaceful implementation of Constitutional issues; and increase Federal and States cooperation. We seek a future for Somalia that lives up to the name of Midnimo — Security and Growth for all in the States.
The role of International Community: Kindly “Combine and Converge”?
There is a general sense of urgency among United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia, European Union and IGAD regarding the situation in Somalia. The 2016 elections process that is currently underway is seen as a last opportunity to create the necessary conditions for transforming international support in a way that reinforces a viable united democratic federal Somalia. It may well be that no elections are feasible in Somalia unless a profound constitutional and political reform is carried out, including the state formation process by which the Federal Government relinquishes some of its concentrated power. However, in spite of it being necessary and urgent, there is no clear vision for a transition in Somalia: accountability, mutual confidence and reliance are lacking. Political elites have contributed, with the collaboration or acquiescence of international actors, to rampant corruption in Somalia. In order for a transition to be successful, the international community should moreover help overcome the lack of political leadership in Somalia.
Even if corruption is pervasive, the international community should considerably
increase assistance channeled through the Federal Government and State governments. All committed New Deal pledges is channelling through United Nations and World Bank managing pipelines such as UN Multi-Partner Trust Fund and WB Multi-Partnership Fund instead of strengthening and using the Somali owned institutions like the Central Bank of Somalia and respective State Banks in Puntland, Somaliland and Jubbaland. There is no other way for the government to acquire legitimacy, but also there is no other way to hold the government accountable both to Somalis and international donors. It is essential therefore to work intensively on accountability mechanisms, both local and international. At the local level, though, accountability is ultimately dependent on Somali judicial institutions. No improvements in any other field will be accomplished in the absence of an independent judiciary, which should of course integrate traditional justice mechanisms. Again, support to the judiciary has been neglected for a decades, which will have an impact on many different fields, including jeopardising attempts to attract private sector investments that in turn provide sustainable employment and economic development. Furthermore, there is little hope of upholding human rights and particularly Rights of Somali Child and Somali women’s rights without competent and independent judicial institutions.
Functioning and mutually balancing political institutions are a prerequisite for a stable Somalia. But Somalia’s current institutions remain weak, imbalanced and ineffective and are instrumentalised by a legally strong executive. The political system is over‐centralised in Mogadishu and therefore inflexible. The balance of power between the SFG’s executive, the legislative and the judiciary is strongly unhinged; same with the States. The executive dominates and often manipulates the legislative and judicial branches. The 2013–14 Villa Somalia political crisis between the President Hassan and his Prime Ministers Abdi Farah Shirdon ‘Saa’id’ and Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed has deepened these defects, by further undermining the reputation of the Federal Parliament as an institution and by exposing the judiciary as an instrument of the executive.
The regional context is still not conducive towards a political settlement in Somalia. Our neighbours seem ready to assert their influence and, as a result, the Somalia situation could drag on. All of our neighboring East African countries have a vital interest in ensuring that Somalia becomes an ally, and not an aggressor, as it was under, President Mohamed Siyad Barre but the present UN Assistance Mission in Somalia is not enhancing the positive role that IGAD member countries might play in the search for a political solution. The security-oriented operation represents again an obstacle to peacebuilding in the region. The greater involvement of Turkey, not just in economic terms, seems necessary in this connection. Moreover, the central position of Somalia in Horn and East Africa needs to be transformed into a peace factor, with initiatives such as the 53rd Extra-Ordinary Session of the IGAD Council of Ministers meeting in Mogadishu being substantially supported.
International Community should combine and converge its efforts to achieve the 2016 process and you must dont let the hope of Somali people down as British Prime Minister David Cameron has said at the Somalia London Conference in May 2013; “now it is time to fulfil the hope for the people of Somalia. That is what they have been living and waiting for, and we must not let them down.”
Strong Defence Forces needed for Territorial Integrity;
As we continues to suffer the horrific ordeal insecurities, Somalia today, needs strong defence forces for not only ensuring peace but also safeguarding its territorial integrity. As a responsible nation, Somalia should firmly committed to peace and stability for which we need an effective deterrence and a strong defense force. And this can only happen when we all stand to support our SNA heroes. We must, of course, have national unity in our defense plans.
The SFG, Puntland, Jubbaland, South West State, Somaliland and other emerging States in Central Regions and Hiran/Middle Shabelle must stand together to make our nation invincible against any assault whether it should come from the inside or the outside of the country. Events in Mogadishu must not be permitted to distract us from the vigilance required at reforming our National forces in the Federal and State level. Our greatest danger is still from insidious inside forces. That fact will be apparent to every Somali as we proceed with the defense-rebuilding program.
A grave responsibility rests upon us all; whether we are Federal Parliaments, or Cabinet Ministers, State governments or private citizen. We must unselfishly contribute all we can to our national security. Those who may seek to take advantage of this perilous hour to exploit the nation’s needs to their own profit, or to advance their own selfish interests will, sooner or later, find themselves condemned as traitors and outcasts by the power of public opinion.
While the nation is striving for all-round of eliminating the terror group al-Shabaab and social empowerment of our citizens, we should remain equally focused on building our defense capability that safeguards our sovereignty and territorial integrity. Under honest, patriotic leadership, Somalis will respond to the call of their country as readily as those men who serve under arms. The call is imperative. Making the law enforcement agents truly independent of the Executives in Somalia is the ONLY way forward for Somalia, if not we will continue to grope in darkness in futility. No policy or legislation can work in Somalia without these structural changes as law enforcement and administration will always be frustrated and abridged by powers that be from above. That is the ONLY way forward for Somalia!
A conclusion and final thought: A focus on State governments may break the political stalemate;
The current political debate regarding state restructuring seems to have reached a stalemate. Beyond the inherently greater focus on public service delivery of a two-sphered federal structure that takes into account Federal and State governments, it is possible that introducing a dramatically different proposal may prove to be a “game changer” that breaks the current political stalemate and reinvigorates the efforts to achieve a grand political compromise with regard to Somalia’s future federal structure.
In 2016 and beyond, we must preserve the Somali way of consideration and respect for the rights and the views of the minorities. When I am speaking the rights of the minorities, and when we demand respect for the views of the minorities, I am not referring only to small groups. I mean also to the Somali women who amounting practically to more than half of the citizens of Somali population. The Somali women in the last 25 years played very important role for the survival of our Somali nation. No impartial judgment would deny this was a good majority force in our nation.
The great objective of the last Road Map (2012) must continue to be the objective of the Vision 2016 process. Truth and justice will eventually triumph. As patriots banded together in a great cause, let us go forward to the battle to retain the Somali way of life and to build a finer and better Somalia with recognizing the role of Somali women. Remember, our only way forward is together!
Mahad Sheikh Ali Gelle; an Institutional Capacity Building expert and former Senior Strategic Advisor to the Interim Jubba Administration based in Kismayo. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org