The Status of Mogadishu as a Capital City


MOGADISHU-iconic-pictureMogadishu, the capital city of Somalia, is once again a discussion point among Somalis at home and abroad. Since it is one region ( Banaadir) it does not satisfy the requirement that two regions or more can form a regional administration. The draft constitution stipulates the Somali federal parliament will decide what status Mogadishu will have under a federal Somalia. Why should people in Mogadishu rely on the federal parliament to run their city when Somalis in Southwest State, Jubaland, Galmudug or Puntland run their regions without parliamentary oversight? This is one of the questions around which federalism debate revolves.

In a Royal Somali TV debate a few weeks ago, two London-based Somali men discussed “the need for Mogadishu to have a regional administration of its own”. Although Abdullahi Mohamed Adam ( Salamullahi ) and Adan Yusuf Ulumo, a member of Banadir administration, kept agreeing with each other during the debate they raised several points worth discussing.

Both men resent the federal parliament’s role in discussions on the status of Mogadishu. Two former Prime Ministers, Ali M. Geddi and Nur Hassan Hussein, and members of a Mudulood committee tasked with forming a regional administration for Mogadishu, held a meeting with UN Somalia Representative, Nicholas Kay. The Murursade clan has issued a statement in which influential members of the clan have called for the Hawiye clan family to take the lead in the initiative to federate Mogadishu.

The most cogent argument was put forward by Adan Yusuf Ulumo who said “successive Somali governments had taken over land belonging to his family.” Mr Ulumo warned against buying land in Ratiweyne neighbourhood in Yaaqshiid district currently being marketed as Darasalam estates by businessmen. “Owners of those properties are not in Somalia” Mr Ulumo said. The debate on the status of Mogadishu has two sides: one side is politico-historical, and the other side is economic.

During the reign of the military regime ( 1969-1991) the government designated parts of Mogadishu as public territories ( dan guud). Those territories were either transformed into neighbourhoods as parts of Mogadishu districts or no-go zone areas for military purpose ( e.g. areas near the Industrial Road). When the state collapsed in 1991 those areas were occupied by people whom the Banadir administration is finding hard to deal with. What makes Mogadishu different from other Somali cities is that political leaders of 1991 United Somali Congress did not prevent their militias and supporters from dispossessing people from rival clans or subclans of their properties. The Banadir governor, Mr Muungaab, was referring to people living in illegally occupied houses or government buildings when he said: “ We will not allow you to live in public or private property”. The following two headlines reflect the enormity of the challenges the governor is addressing:

(1)maamulka degmada Yaaqshiid oo dadkii lahaa ku wareeejiyay guri 25 sanno laga haystay ( Yaaqshiid district administration restitutes a house illegally occupied for 25 years )

(2) Muungaab oo dhul sharci daro loo heystay u soo celiyay Misjidka Sheekh Cali Suufi”SAWIRRO” ( Mogadishu governor returns illegally occupied plot of land to Sheikh Ali Sufi mosque trustees )

The economic side of the debate is more challenging due to concept of trade-offs. What else could successive Somali governments have done to help the capital to expand other than nationalising plots of privately occupied lands before land ownership was formalised in Somalia? Before 1991 clans living near Mogadishu had more opportunities compared to clans living in regions far-away from Mogadishu: the Somali National University, Somali Institute of Development Administration and Management (SIDAM) and the College of Education and major hospitals were in or near Mogadishu. In addition, people from far-away regions invested in Mogadishu’s expansion by buying properties. The now late Jirde Hussein invested in, among other businesses, the construction of two landmark buildings in downtown Mogadishu.

Mogadishu has enjoyed the highest rate of multi-clan investment in property and business creation for 31 years before state collapse. The pre-1991 advantage of clans near Mogadishu was based on the state’s policies aimed at expanding and making Mogadishu the hub of the nation whereas the post-1991 advantage of Mogadishu’s major clans is based on the capture of Mogadishu by United Somali Congress . On which advantage is the entitlement to rule Mogadishu as a regional administration based? This is not a question Mr Adam Ulumo and Abdullahi Salamulah addressed in the Royal Somali TV debate for they believe Mogadishu’s major clan and sub-clans are entitled to rule Mogadishu as separate regional administration although it is the seat of the Federal Government.

Liban Ahmad




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