Federalism in Somalia: A lip service at National and International Levels | IshaBay Dhaba
Somalia is a nation whose population never saw a free and fair election. People were not taught national wisdom and civic education rather they have grown in tribal mentality and clan interest ideology. Before independence, some Somalis from central and north eastern regions with the pretext of supporting Somali Youth League (SYL) came and infiltrate in the south. In addition to that, some others from the same regions came in the south with the Italian colonialists as servants, drivers etc and infiltrated in the south as well. During 1950s when Somalis were straggling for independence, there were two suggestions regarding the kind of government should the Somali independent government be: One suggestion was stating that the nascent Somali Independent government should be a centralised unitary state while the other suggestion was stating that Somalia should have a federal system of governance. Unfortunately, the Italian colonialists endorsed and supported the first suggestion and the Italian constitution has been literally copied for Somali government.
Becoming independent on 1960, Somalis who were grown in a tribal mentality and ignorant in civic education and national wisdom started managing government institutions which require specific education and managerial skills to properly run each office.
The result was that management went so badly wrong. Tribalism, corruption, and embezzlement of state property, land grasping became the daily exercises in government offices. No free and fair election took place in Somalia from 1959 to present date. All elections especially from 1959 to 1967 were forcefully rigged by the ruling party – the SYL until the then president Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke was killed in 1969 as the result of the last rigged election in which more than 80 tribal based parties were contesting for the parliament.
After the murder of the president, the military took over the country in October 1969. The situation became worst, dictatorship, and tyranny for 21 years until the military dictatorship was toppled by popular revolt in late 1990. The popular rebellion turned unfortunately into tribal based faction fighting (civil war) for power for almost 23 years from 1991 up to now.
The centralised unitary state suggested by SYL has completely failed in Somalia. During the civil war, so many reconciliation conferences have been held for Somalis to reconcile but all ended without results except that in most of these reconciliation meetings some sort of document stating either a regional autonomy or a federal system of governance will be adopted for Somalia and all factions were signing these documents under the pressure of the International community because these conferences were held and financially supported by the International community not by Somalis themselves. The federal system of governance for Somalia was suggested by the major opposition party – Hisbi Dastur Mustaqil Somali – Somali Constitutional Independent Party (HDMS) of south-western regions.
In the last reconciliation conference in 2004 at Nbegati of Nairobi Kenya, a federal constitution was drafted. The name given to the government was the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and later on the Somali Federal Government (SFG). But all the nominated/selected Parliaments, Presidents, Prime Minters and cabinets from 2004 up to now failed to endorse and implement the federal constitution because still the people are the same-tribalists with clan interest based ideology. Looking for tribal interest, Somalis from other regions (earlier only from north eastern and central region, now also from Ethiopia and Kenya) are still fighting to conquer more lands in the south western regions where less belligerent Somalis are living, therefore is difficult for them to accept federalism. Likewise, pat of the International community member states and companies whether neighbouring or far countries, have also interest in Somalia and play their role to achieve their interest melting in the interest of Somali factions and tribe interests.
An example is the Interim Jubba Administration. Jubba administration was unilaterally established by the ex faction of Al Shabab – the raskiamboni group disregarding the “National stabilization Plan: Laying foundations for functional and effective local governance structure of 15 February 2013” by the SFG.
As Somali tribes, and clan interest, the Dam jaded (new blood) group were not happy with the move, but some of International partners (neighbouring and far countries) including the special representative of the United Nations Secretary General (UNSG) for Somalia see their interest in the interest of the raskiamboni group and forced and convinced the representatives of Dam jaded group to sign the Addis Ababa agreement on 28 August 2013.
Another example is the South West Somali Federal State (SWSFS) composed by the six regions. The SWSFS was established by the genuine Elders of the six regions after one year and half of self sponsored reconciliation meeting and with the consent of the SFG. The Dam jaded group strongly opposed and have created and supporting a contrasting meeting in a hotel using corrupted handpicked individuals and unethical media to throw dust in the eyes of the international community. On the other hand, some of the regional and International community figures including the representative of the UNSG for Somalia agreed and support the SFG stating that the United Nations will continue to support the SFG on its plan to stabilise the country and form administration of three regions for southwest regions.
Another example is the nominations of regional governors and districts commissioners with Presidential decrees and Ministerial decrees respectively. The misuse and unbalanced distribution of national military hardware, weapons and ammunitions is another example and this has been clearly reported by the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group.
Now, a meeting entitled “the security is the key of life” hosted and sponsored by the Ministry of national security is going on in Mogadishu. Are invited the so called administration of Puntland and Jubba (Darood), Galmudug, Himin ii Heeb and Ahlu Suna wal jama (Hawiye) others are not recognized as national stakeholders even if they are genuinely elected by the real community elders supported by all civil society groups like the South West State.
These are just to mention a few, but there are so many other scenarios indicating that federalism in Somalia is just a lip service instead of a real and respected constitution and every country, group, individual chase own interest whether being Somalis or Internationals . Where the interests overlap they are together and where the interests become divergent, the weaker in position should follow the stronger. For how long do Somalis, especially the nomad clans–warmonger clans – invading clans need to learn civility and national wisdom and be able to differentiate national interest from clan interest?