Before we undertake the gist of the topic, it is vitally important to elucidate what we mean when we discuss about “federalism”. In defining “federalism” the word federalism is a form of an arrangement where minimum two levels of government practice constitutional power over the same territory and people (Max Planck Foundation, 2016).
The debate about Somalia’s federal system was incrementally spreading among Somalia’s policy-makers and the international community which has an interest one way or another to the Somalia’s political system. Furthermore, Somalia since her independence in 1960 used to apply Unitary government, but after the civil war erupted in 1991 which Somalia lost limb and lives, colossal of Somalis believed that, they can’t apply anymore a unitary government. Because, Somalis as a tribal-society, each clan wants to take the lead when it comes to the highest political positions, and to dominate the natural resources of the country. So, after enormous intra-conflicts among them, the international community and the Somali politicians proposed to shift from Unitary government to Federal government in order to reconcile at least the community and to share the resources.
As a result, officially, Somalia adopted this system in 2004. But, suddenly another challenge erupted which is, each clan started to advocate the interest of their autonomous state instead of the national interest which undermined the common interest. Additionally, many people are still skeptical about this system, and believe that, this system dilutes and dwindles the unity of the Somalia people.
As, Wilson, Dilulio and Bose (2014) provide more specificity in a threshold definition of Federalism that takes into consideration power-sharing among the central government and her peripherals. In this regard, both the central government and the regional states can share the decision-making process in order to reach out consensus. Which means, neither the central government, nor the states can exercise the power alone.
Moreover, federalism abnegates any monolithic notion which can trigger a fresh conflict among the two-levels of the government. So, in this definition, we can extract that, federalism is an antidote for potential conflict among the political leaders. In addition to that, federalism nullifies any overpowering tended by the federal government or the autonomous states, and suggests to handle wisely if any conflict erupts.
On the other hand, plethora of researches have been made regarding how the federal government and her regional states can share with the natural resources. But, rarely has been discussed the suitability of this emerging system to Somalia.
The peculiarity of federalism in Africa
In this section, I will elaborate the history of Africa’s federalism and how federalism is peculiar in the continent. Generally, Federalism in Africa doesn’t have a good image. Because, its success is eerie while her problems are conspicuous. There are four out of fifty-four (54) federal countries in Africa including Nigeria, Ethiopia, Comoros and South-Africa (Burgess, 2012). Even there are some scholars who argue that, South-Africa is more likely devolution government, that is, a decentralized unitary state. This rareness of the federalism in Africa is crystal clear how federalism is bizarre in Africa.
After the civil war in Somalia in 1991 which caused, bad blood, dichotomy, feud, loggerheads and disagreements among the Somali people, the international community along with Somali leaders came up with this system of federalism in order to stick together again Somalia (Abdirizak, 2012). But, it is not an easy task to impose federalism a homogenous people who share everything including religion, culture, race, language and common traditions (Egal, 2020). But, with all these obstacles, Somalia decides to adopt this system of federalism as a panacea for the past misfortunes.
Moreover, Somalia as a country ridden by conflicts which is recovering from the negative legacy of the civil war, the regional states are skeptical how the natural resources of the country can be shared both the federal government and her peripherals (Ahmad, 2014). Because, currently there is conspicuous love-and hate relationship amidst the federal government and the peripherals about how the natural resources can be distributed fairly. And periodically, we witness the deteriorating ties among the two-levels of the government.
In Africa, where one-man-rule, patrimonial leadership, political dynasty, dictatorship and single-party is overarched, the democracy and development discourses on federal issues have served to figure out both the versatility and the vulnerability of the federal notion in pursuit of nation building projects. These notorious regimes indicate how federalism success is ironic and explain the failure of democratization processes via the federal idea, especially countries like Somalia, Sudan and the Democratic Republic of Congo which are not previously federal-states.
So, we can see how this system is whimsical in this continent. As a result, there is a drastic need for research which can unearth whether Somalia is applicable for federal system or not.
On the other hand, despite the social heterogeneity that exists the whole African communities, but there is also difference forms of traditional governance. For instance, in Benin and Nigeria, every citizen was called “Oba’s man” which means “Ruler”. These traditional systems were part of the governance.
FG and FMS stalemate:
Since the incumbent his Excellence President Farmajo takes the office in February, 2017, there was a conspicuous dichotomy and political standoff among the federal government and her peripherals. Maverick president Farmajo, and his former pompous prime minister tended knee-jerk actions against the dissenting voices, while the leaders of the FMS, especially Puntland and Jubbaland tended stubborn as mule. The federal government several times accused the leaders of these two-states that, they are sycophants to the countries like Kenya and UAE.
Equally, Puntland and Jubbaland leaders evoked that, the federal government is dividing the FMS as docile and defiant. As a result, the federal government is feeding the docile states, and concomitantly is castigating the deviant states. Currently, three out of the five regional states are under the federal government’s tutelage namely Southwest, Galmudug and Hirshabelle states, while Puntland and Jubbaland state became black sheep according to the federal government.
Dhuusamareeb 1 &2 talks
Since `July this year, there was consultative forums and meetings within the FMS, and with the federal government. The earlier of July, the leaders of the five regional states get together in Dhuusamareeb after they received an official invitation from the leader of Galmudug state his Excellency Qoor-qoor. After talks, the leaders unanimously agreed upon that, One-Person One-Vote is not a viable option at this time, alternatively there is a need for an inclusive model for the forthcoming election within the timeframe. Moreover, they also invited the president and the prime minister to attend the next dhuusamareeb conference. After days, the former prime minister his Excellency Khayre went in Dhuusamareeb and started indirect talks with the leaders of the FMS. Since prime minister Khayre went in Dhuusamareeb, the infighting among the federal leaders erupted officially. Subsequently, his Excellency president Farmajo went immediately in Dhuusamareeb, and started chairing Dhuusamareeb 2. After days, the federal leaders, and the regional states’ leaders agreed upon to appoint a technical committee which pursues and expedites the talks, and to meet again in15 August, last month in order to finalize and hammer out an agreement.
The dislodgment of the PM
In July, 25 right after the Dhuusamareeb 2, the Somalia’s Federal Parliament (House of the People) fired by vote of no confidence the former PM. The dislodgment of the former prime minister was unprecedented and dumfounded. Because, 170 MPs supported the motion against the former PM, while only 8 rejected. The speaker of the House of the People his Excellency Mursal justified the vote of no-confidence that, Khayre’s government has failed to deliver the promises including One-Person One-Vote of the upcoming election, while the security is deteriorating. Plenty of the talking heads believe that, the sacking of the PM came when the incumbent president and his team established a new party, namely Nabad and Nolol Party, and the former prime minister had a political ambition which led him to hide his decision about the emerging party of the incumbent. Additionally, since the chairman of the National Independent Electoral Commission requested an extension in front of the House of the People, there was increasing sense of an extension of the incumbent which created a mistrust within the government, and the outsiders. Since then, the former PM insisted famously and courageously that, the upcoming election should be as slated. This nuclear option expressed by the Prime Minister freaked out the president and his inner-circle.
In August, 21 this year the president of Somalia his Excellency Farmajo, and the leaders of Galmudug State, Southwest States, Hirshabelle states, and the Mayor of Mogadishu and the Governor of Benadir unleashed an electoral model for the forthcoming election 2020-2021.
Parliament members will be elected through constituency caucuses, with 301 electoral delegates voting in each constituency. Each regional state in the country will have four constituencies. The National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) will supervise the election. And the election will be based on Multi-Party System. This agreement was made with the absence of the leaders of Puntland and Jubbaland. President Dani, and president Madobe boycotted the agreement, and accused the FG that, they violated some of the promises in Dhuusamareeb 2.
Since 10th this month, the talks among the FG, Puntland, and Jubbaland leaders has been going on intermittently. The president is persisting to keep the result of Dhuusamareeb 3 as it’s, while Dani, and Madobe are insisting to review these points: –
- National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC) will not oversee the upcoming election, instead Ad-hoc committees will be replaced like the latest election in 2016.
- Multi-Party System is not viable option currently due to the daunting circumstances including but not limited the security, some areas are still under Alshabaab which is not possible for voting.
- To reduce the proposed number of the delegates which is currently 301.
- Madobe demanded particularly, the federal government to withdraw the troops they installed in Gedo region which is under Jubbaland state.
As Somalis adopts 4.5 formula when it comes to the political positions, since the former PM his Excellency Khayre was dislodged, the president didn’t nominate his successor. The clan which belongs the prime minister’s position is complaining since then, and denigrated the president that, he has belittled the status of their clan. As a result, many politicians are politicizing, and advocating a clannish mentality for this issue for their political mileage, and their personal interests so as to vanquished and challenge the incumbent.
International Community urges and emboldens the Mogadishu Conference
The UN, and other stakeholders supported the Mogadishu’s conference for their press release in 15th September. The international family encouraged the leaders of the FG, and the FMS to reach out an inclusive, and acceptable electoral model for the upcoming election in 2020/21. Moreover, the international family also deterred the leaders for their personal interests for the sake of the nation.
Somalia is recuperating and bouncing back the legacy of the civil war in 1991, which have been died colossal of Somalis, displaced enormous others, while evacuated tremendous others. As a citizen, we fed-up to the back teeth, and gave-up any further disagreement among the political leaders. We need to bootstrap, and recover the past misfortunes which jeopardized our unity, and our solidarity. We urge our political leaders to hammer out for the sake of the posterity. Because, all Somalis are asking each other the ongoing Mogadishu’s conference, and the upcoming election becomes the talk of the town. Let’s stay-tuned!
Anwar Abdifatah Bashir (Freelance Journalist/Independent Researcher and Horn of Africa Geopolitics Analyst). The writer is the Author of Four Books, including “Horn of Africa Geopolitics, with especial consideration, the Somali region in Ethiopia”.
The Author, recently completed his Fourth Post-Graduate Study in KOREA majored in (Global Governance and Political Economy) at Korean Development Institute (KDI)