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Published On: Sun, Jan 17th, 2016

Somalia: How to break the power-sharing deadlock

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The National Consultative Forum held in Kismayo ended in deadlock. As leaders prepared to leave the city for the capital and other federal states the AUE ambassador to Somalia arrived with a message reportedly to encourage leaders to agree how to conduct elections in 2016.  The Federal States that prefer power-sharing through pre-1991 regions control six regions whereas the Federal States in favour of the 4.5 power-sharing mechanisms control five regions. If President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud succeeds to facilitate forming of a Federal State made up of Hiiraan and Middle Shabelle, his political capital will have been boosted.

 

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has demonstrated pragmatism as reflected in his support for a fully-fledged federalism; he expedited   forming of Galmudug Interim Administration and supports a similar approch to a second Federal Sate with an administrative capital in Buloburde district.

 

Pro-federalism camps ( Puntland and Jubaland) cannot accuse the President of not being serious about federalism even if he initially opposed  Jubaland administration. After all, the interest of a President’s  clan or his core group comes before that of the nation. This is the net result of the power-sharing mechanism Somalis adopted in 2000 in Djibouti.

 

Ardent supporters of federalism argue power at the centre is likely to be abused by the executive, and that is why federal states should have the means to protect interests of their constituencies  ( clansmen and clanswomen). But what about if a federal state, like successive federal governments, becomes dysfunctional due to infighting or corruption?

The need for a hybrid power—sharing deal that will allow for the emergence of leaders who can appeal to all constituencies is worth trying. To prevent politicians from gaming the system at any level modalities based on administrative efficiency, transparency,  human rights and responsiveness to local needs must be built into institutions of the Federal Government and  Federal States.

 

The process of rebuilding robust and broad-based state institutions for Somalia needs to place citizen rights at the heart of such an endeavour.  With this in mind, the Somali Draft Constitution should not  be rushed.   Somalia needs a constitution  that can be updated for  the Draft Constitution has enabled the Somali Federal Government to block implementation of the transitional justice processes called for  by UN Security Council in  Resolution 2067 (2012); it derailed efforts to form a National Army beyond clan militias who are currently paid in the name of a National Army.

One of the most important lessons learned from efforts to form  Somali governments since 2000 is that a national government seen as controlled by a group at the centre polarises people, becomes dysfunctional and ever more dependent on AMISOM.  While there are impediments to campaigning on party platforms due to areas in Somalia still under Al-shabaab, it would be worthwhile to help Somali political leaders practice how to form a coalition government rated on how it performs outside the seat of government and its links with Federal States.

Successive Somali governments formed since 2000 have failed partly due to lack of governance and human rights benchmarks. If Somalia is to produce servant leaders with whom all people can identify it is imperative to accept that Somalia’s current crop of leaders are not up to the task of helping Somalia to become a viable state. The mistrust and political misjudgments of 1991 leaders are haunting participants in National Consultative Forum. There is no point in talking about a national government or elections when citizens are unable to break from structural and psychological barriers Somali politicians have  built   to keep citizen rights on the back burner

 

Liban Ahmad

libahm@icloud.com

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