Somalia: The new electoral model hits a deadlock
The decision of the Somali Federal Government to use 4.5 power-sharing to elect a president in 2016 was made in the last week of January, twenty-five years after the collapse of the state. It is a symbolic rather than practical response to problems of statelessness with which Somalia has been grappling since 1991.
United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia and Somalia’s international partners described the government decision as progress and inclusive. According to the Somali-American analyst, Faisal Roble, United Nations Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, is a diplomat who respects the sovereignty of Somalia by supporting the decision of the federal government. The task of making that decision into reality lies with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, whose government endorsed the 4.5 electoral model at a cabinet meeting last week.
The electoral model suggested by the Somali Federal Government has hit the first hurdle after Puntland President, Dr Abdiweli Mohamed Gaas, declined to accept the government suggestion and decided “to go back to Puntland for consultations with the people”. People in Bosaso, Qardho, Garowe and North Galka’ayo took to streets to voice anger the government decision. They commended Puntland President for not accepting a top-down electoral model that has been used four times since 2000 but was found to be divisive and ineffectual at promoting political reconciliation and transitional justice. Puntland threw its weight behind the process to end the Transitional Federal Government to pave the way for the Somali Federal Government in 2012. Puntland has never taken the Somali Federal Government to task for undermining the Joint Financial Management Board introduced in 2012 Somalia conference organised by the British government to enable the Somali government to access substantial assistance for national reconstruction transparently nor has it made suggestions to reform the dysfunctional, clan-based Somali Army in Mogadishu and the South-central Somalia. To the Somali Federal Government, Puntland silence on major federal issues has come across as a sign of weakness. That the international community supports an electoral model that was used to undermine the principles of 2012 Somalia conference in London is mind-boggling.
Upon returning to Kismayo Ahmed Madobe, Jubaland President said Somali “political leaders… haven’t agreed on anything. The international community whom I call the sixth clan made the decision on the 4.5 power-sharing“.
In Mogadishu leaders of political parties rejected an electoral model based on 4.5.” By forcing the 4.5 electoral model on people the Federal Government will risk popular uprising” said Salad Ali Jelle , the former Defence Minister under Prime Minister Geddi. Ahmed M. Fiqi, the former director of Somali Intelligence Service warned against the usurpation of political decision-making by seven persons”. In Hargeisa, Somaliland Minister of Information, Mr Abdulahi Mohamed Dahir said Somaliland has been a state where one-man-one-vote takes place and is no longer in union with Somalia. “Decisions made in Mogadishu do not affect us,” he told journalists in Hargeisa.
Objections to the 4.5 electoral model indicate that the Somali Federal Government is as unpopular as the Transitional National Government of Somalia ( 2000-2004). If popular support is the main catalyst for a political change in Somalia, more than half of the Somali people oppose the 4.5 electoral model.
The former Puntland President, Abdirahman Farole, asked for people of Mogadishu to show President Mohamud the door the way they forced former Transitional Federal Government President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, to resign in December 2008.
The 4.5 electoral model lacks all ingredients for success that International Crisis Group pointed out a recommendation to the former UN Secretary-General’s Special Representative for Somalia in a 2008 report shortly before resignation of President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed: “ Encourage Somali participants in the Djibouti process to use influential clan leaders, business community leaders, clerics and civil society to create momentum and grassroots support for that process“. If President Mohamud fails to persuade his compatriots on the merits if the 4.5 electoral model, he should consider backing down on the 4.5-based electoral model because it is not the job Somalia’s international partners to sell it to the Somali people.