Somalia, a country riven by conflicts, ravaged by wars and pervaded by clan-based poisoned politics is expecting to apply free and square elections in 2020-2021. According to the plan, the upcoming election of Somalia in 2021 will be based on “one man one vote”. In this respect, the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) announced repeatedly that, the country is moving forward to meet the Universal Suffrage. Additionally, the commission registered so far more than 40 political parties, and last Thursday 02 May the council of ministries endorsed the Electoral Bill and currently is under the parliament for approval. Though, there are prerequisite to be fixed before the action should be taken the so-called security, reconciliation, Constitutional ratification, Registration of political parties, conducting a population census and choosing an election system. As we know, there is ample and blatant political futile among the federal government and its federal units since this current federal government was elected in February 2017. Since 05 May to present, the federal and regional states leaders are gathered the capital city of Puntland administration (Garowe) for fixing their political differences, bury the hatchet and to come up with the leap forward.
Briefcase political parties or?
Though enormous political parties have been registered so far, but we are cynical whether these parties will be permanent and solid parties which are capable for maintaining their political clout whether they succeed the upcoming elections or not, or these political parties will be vanished after the election? In 1967, the last free and fair election in Somalia, there was tremendous political parties which have been registered during the election campaign, and forthwith, they disappeared after the election. So, we don’t need to see such short-sighted political parties. We need strong political parties which have long-term ambition to the political landscape in Somalia.
Mogadishu status becomes dirty word, taboo topic and far-fetched business!
Mogadishu’s status becomes futile, intractable, ironic, invincible, inexorable, and ineluctable. According to the provisional constitution, Article 9 says “the status of the capital city of Somalia shall be determined in the constitutional review process, and the two houses of the Somali federal parliament namely (House of the People and the Upper-House) shall enact a special law with regards to this issue” so, the federal parliament with its two chambers didn’t yet draft the bill which regards the status. And this silence led into different interpretations related how the status could be. Some people say the reason behind to postpone and make it facetious every president the process of Mogadishu’s status is, because the federal government controls only Mogadishu, so if Mogadishu becomes a new state, then the federal government becomes ceremonial and lame-duck. And the budget from Mogadishu, especially the Airport and the Seaport will be managed by the leader of Mogadishu. While some others believe that, the reason behind not to enact a new bill about the status of Mogadishu is, because, Mogadishu’s districts administration bestride and control only one clan, so, the other clans with their members of the parliament are not interesting this issue as longest they believe that, they will not get quota. Ostensibly, some clans believe that, they are more advantageous than others, and that is why the other despised clans are reluctant to expedite the process of giving Mogadishu especial status.
The federal government is completely shambled to this process!
The federal governments since 2012, from his Excellency Hassan Sheikh, former president and the incumbent his Excellency president Farmajo, when the provisional constitution was adopted, are reluctant to give Mogadishu especial representation as longest its mentioned in the constitution. Some political pundits believe that, if the government provides this right to Mogadishu, then a new solid challenge will be erupted. Because, Mogadishu is the only place where the federal government flex its muscles. Also, the income source of the federal government totally comes from the Airport and the Seaport of Mogadishu, and the federal government doesn’t get an income from the other regional states. So, if Mogadishu becomes a new state with its new independent administration, then the leader of Mogadishu will be predominated the resource from the Airport and the Seaport of Mogadishu, and the federal government holds then titular position. In this regard, the federal government decides to downgrade Mogadishu status process for antidote.
National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC)
According to the provisional constitution, especially Article 111G clarifies the establishment of this paramount commission. The federal parliament-House of the People has already adopted this commission’s act. Its mandate includes:-
Conducting the presidential elections, federal parliament elections, voter’s registration, candidate’s registration. In 2016, the latest presidential and parliamentary election, the commission was lame-duck and was holding only titular position. Because, they didn’t participate that election completely. Alternatively, Federal Independent Electoral Team (FIET) and its subcontractor State Independent Electoral Team (SIET) were leading the whole process. But, nowadays their work is conspicuous. For example, they handled and led the Southwest Administration’s latest election which was elected his Excellency AbdiAziz Laftagareen as the new president of Southwest Administration. Also, they organized and led some MPs seats. And now, the commission registered more than 40 political parties.
On the other hand, the commission December 2017, launched five year strategic plan about the upcoming election in Somalia 2020-2021 elections. This Strategic Plan will be baseline and guideline of the commission’s work.
According to the latest report of the commission which has been submitted to the parliament-House of the People in April 17 this year, was underlined that the commission has achieved the following:-
- Opening offices to the regional states
- Increasing the staff of the commission both the headquarter and the regional states
- Capacitating the staff of the commission towards the management of the elections
- The commission becomes member of the international electoral commissions so as to enhance the experience of the commission towards the elections, also the commission becomes observant some elections
- In February this year, the commission visits some interim political parties’ offices in order to check whether they fulfilled the prerequisite of the temporary political parties according to the political parties law
- The milestone is, more than 100 MPs are members the interim political parties which have been registered so far
- Also, the commission has prepared the voters education’s curriculum and election campaign procedures
- Additionally, the commission decides that, the voter’s registration will be (Biometric System) dodging for corruption of the votes.
- The commission also discovered through Satellite Image that, the voter’s registration places
Boundaries and Federation Commission
According to the Provisional Constitution, especially Article 111E declares the creation of this commission. The federal parliament-House of the People is already approved this commission’s act. One of its businesses is, supporting the territorial changes in Somalia so as to get a fully-fledged federation of states. Also, the commission draws on national and international expertise, at the same time conduct studies, print maps and conduct inquires to cater for the establishment of viable federal states.
On the other hand, the commission takes into account demographic and cartographic information as well as political, economical and social criteria and recommends to the federal parliament the demarcation of boundaries of federal member states. Additionally, the commission is independent, impartial, inclusive and representative of all geographical parts of Somalia. Furthermore, the ultimate decision of the boundaries of the regional states shall be made by the federal parliament, and based on the recommendations of the boundaries and federation commission. With all these powers, the commission is yet inactive. And that is why some regional states have problem and fighting each others for the sake of the boundaries. For instance, Puntland and Galmudug administrations are still at loggerheads and dichotomy the city of Galkayo. So, there is an immense need to expedite and activate the work of the commission in order to solve and handle the conflict related the boundaries.
According to the latest report which the commission has been submitted to the parliament-House of the People in 17 April this year, has been presented that the commission highlighted that, the boundaries between the regional states are 7 lines in accordance with the provisional constitution, especially Article 7(The Territory of the Federal Republic of Somalia), clause 4 (The Boundaries of the Federal Republic of Somalia shall be those described in the 1960 Constitution of Somalia). In this regard, the commission underlined that, they decided to declare and settle 2 boundaries during 2019, and the remaining will be settled and declared in 2020.
On the other hand, the commission presented that, there are no agreeable districts which existed before 1991, and there are also 20 districts which were not identified.
According to this, the commission dedicated to complete the names and the boundaries of the districts which were existed before 1991 during this year 2019.
Lack of civic education within the society!
With all these ragtag and mayhem process of federalism in Somalia, there is no anyone who explains the public this system of federalism. And if you engage profoundly the mass and ask them even the provisional constitution, mostly they don’t even have any idea, and some may say, the constitution is envious. Because, these people should be taught the meaning of the constitution before telling them the federal system that Somalia has taken. I am not talking about the few elite people who have the knowledge to understand these issues, but I am talking about the layman. And that is why; they demonstrate apathy all the time towards this issue.
The other side of the table, the big question is, how the public will be voted the provisional constitution if they don’t have any idea about it? Because, at the end of the day, there must be national referendum towards the constitution. Why not the public officials including the top officers come and explain the people about the constitution, the federal system that we have taken in 2004, the upcoming referendum of the constitution and etc. so, in my point of view, there is an immense need for civic education before the action should be done.
Anwar Abdifatah Bashir (Freelance Journalist/Independent Researcher and Horn of Africa Geopolitics Analyst)