The Somali people aspire to become citizens of a sovereign, reconciled, integrated, and peaceful Country under democratic parliamentary system of government constrained by will of the people and the rule of law. Free and fair national and local elections of peoples’ representatives and leaders at predetermined time are the main feature of the democratic government.
The first post transition Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) formed in August 2012 and led by President Hassan Sh. Mohamed, former civil society activist, has been elected to establish the institutions and laws necessary to conduct national election throughout Somalia by the end of its four year term in August 2016. The FGS enjoyed the opportunity and needed support to undertake methodically, transparently, and responsibly the priority tasks envisaged in many documents – the Constitution, Vision 2016, and the Somali Compact.
But its failure to implement those tasks has undermined the execution of Articles 60 (Terms of Office of the Parliament) and 91 (Term of Office of the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia). These last articles establish the right and responsibility of the Somali Citizens to express conscious judgment on the performance of their representatives after four years in office and on future anticipations by exercising their right to vote.
The sacking of two Prime Ministers and their Cabinet within two years by the joint efforts of the President and members of parliament (MPs) for incompetence has been touted as political achievements and maturity. Thus, the people’s collective judgment on the performance of MPs and the President after four years through democratic process would enhance that political maturity. There is no clause in the Provisional Constitution that allows term extension for any justification.
Unlikely Election in 2016
National democratic elections are intended to ensure political participation, fair competition, stability, security, legitimacy, accountability, and transparency and to eliminate the risks associated with personal rule. Paragraph 3 of article 46 of the Constitution requires that, “The people’s representation system shall be able to satisfactorily and reasonably prevent any crisis that may arise as a result of political contests and election results.”
The Somali people suffer the traumatic experience of fraudulent election in 1969 that produced the military regime largely accused of the total collapse of the Somali State, the civil war, and the disintegration of the country in 1991. The consequences of another fraudulent election in 2016 are frightening.
What puzzles many Somalis including myself is the talk about political election in August 2016 when the review of the Provisional Constitution which is one of many preconditions for political election has yet to be put in words, debated and passed by legitimate stakeholders for national referendum. Other preconditions yet to be considered include well publicized laws, well established institutions and well organized preparation before attempting to embark on national election that embodies the concept of political representation.
The majority of Somalis and Non Somalis who are familiar with the realities in Somalia and with the issues of political election firmly believe that there is no way that free and fair election will take place throughout Somalia in August 2016. But President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ambassador Nicholas Kay, the head of UN Mission in Somalia scoff public opinion and insist that election will take place in Somalia as scheduled.
The International Crisis Group (ICG) advocates that in the face of certainty of no free and fair election in August 2016, the international community must put forward alternatives as early as possible in order to debate and agree upon for acceptance. But the International Community has the vice practice to concoct last minute roadmap that will perpetuate the Somali political crisis.
Alternative Options to Universal Suffrage in 2016
Understandably, the public debate is not anymore about free and fair election in August 2016, but it is about what other options the citizens of Somalia have to elect their second post transit representatives and leaders. In general, Somalis strongly oppose three thoughts: (a) term extension of Parliament and President; (b) Selection of MPs by the 135 traditional leaders or (c) by the Federal Member States. Without comment, there are six suggestions as alternative options for consideration:
- Dahir Jibril Proposal based on clan (sub clan) caucuses chaired by the traditional leaders (Nabadons) augmented with large number of the sub clan leaders for the election of their Representative on pre-approved Statute (guidelines).
- Kamal Gutale Proposal based on Electoral Colleges representing 90+ districts. The Electoral Colleges will elect District Representatives for Parliament and the President.
- Forum for Unity and Democracy proposal based on conducting national election through a “party list proportional representation system.” Political parties will publish list of candidates and voters will vote to political parties.
- Somali Diaspora US-Canada Gurmad Vision 2016 proposal suggests term extension for the federal parliament but demands election of parliamentary leaders and the President.
- Parliamentary Groups advance the proposal of impeaching and removing President Hassan Sh. Mohamud from office in 2015 for the election of new President.
- Independent observers believe that the existence of the FGS for the next four years is unnecessary unless it is intended to continue political squabbles and spread the endemic corruption. Therefore, they suggest that there is no need to elect members of federal parliament and Federal President since the newly created federal members states have gained independent status and have taken full control over their territories with the help of foreign forces.
It is my opinion that the Somali leaders should focus obsessively on the review process of the Provisional Constitution as precondition for national reconciliation, state building, and good governance, including national election. In this context, two amendments deserve close attention and extensive debate.
- The clarification of the basis (clan identity, regions, south and north, and other factors) and principles of the “fiercely disputed” choice of the federal system of government Vis-a`-Vis Somali citizenship identity.
- The prohibition of the members of parliament from holding other public office including the Council of Ministers to strengthen the separation of powers for checks and balances between the four branches of the Somali Government- President, Parliament, Council of Ministers, and Judiciary.
It is also my opinion that at this juncture of heightened clan politics and calls for genuine reconciliation, a link between representatives and clan constituents is inevitable. The unlikely universal suffrage in 2016 reinstates the 4.5 clan formula destined to dustbin by the end of the first post transition FGS.
The selection of MPs on the basis of 4.5 clan formula is less problematic compare to all other forms of political representation. However, the selection process has to be democratized and must satisfy the principles of fairness, legitimacy, and transparency. Each 4.5 clans represented in the current parliament has to prepare a guideline (Statute) for the selection of their MPs. Each guideline must be agreed upon by the leaders of the concerned clan. A leadership Council of each clan will carry out the selection process of MPs on the basis of the pre-approved guideline. The democratization of clan affairs will help the democratization of national affairs. My proposal simplifies Dahir Jibril’s proposal.
Last but not least, given the difficulty in the selection of women representing clans in parliament, all clans must agree on a separate quota and verifiable selection process dedicated to women in order to tone down the recrimination between men and women in public arena for the best interests of the Somali Society.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso