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HOW DID SOMALIA COME TO THIS POLITICAL QUAGMIRE?

By Ismail Warsame; ismail@ismailwarsame.blog; @ismailwarsame

Understanding the issues at heart of this stalemate and political paralysis is essential to get Somalia out of the deep hole in regards to democratization, conducting all-inclusive and fair electoral process. How to achieve that?

We must first find out how the country, emerging from most vicious civil war in its entire history came to a standstill with regards to its governance?

The answer to this question lies in deceptive populism of former President Farmajo, his inclination to return the government to tyranny by trying to dismantle Federal Member States (FMSs), thus throwing the country’s constitution out to the window. The Upper House of the Federal Parliament, representing FMSs had been marginalized and sidelined altogether. This was first attempt to undermine the constitution by Farmajo government. To consolidate power and seize total control of the Central Authority (FGS), a few crucial policies were implemented:

  1. Remove or replace Heads of the FMSs with loyalists. This Farmajo policy had succeeded in the weak FMSs of Galmudugh, Hirshabelle and Southwest State.
  2. Break and prevent unofficial ties of some FMSs like Puntland and Jubaland had had with Ethiopia, UAE and Kenya. This couldn’t succeed with regards to Jubaland as far as Kenya is concerned due to the presence of Kenya’s AMISOM portion stationed in Jubaland and Puntland with Emirates’ commercial relations.
  3. Exert maximum political pressure on Puntland and Jubaland for centrally approved domestic policies compliance.
  4. Qatar and Turkey persuaded to deal only with the Centre ( FGS).
  5. To take advantage of the weak institutions, the tasks required to complete Provisional Constitution were forfeited.

Under these tense circumstances and relationships between Farmajo and some heads of the FMSs administrations, Farmajo has been announcing that he was in favour of an election on the basis one-person-one-vote (1P1V). Farmajo never wanted free and fair elections. I had exposed this in several of my past articles. However, for the sake of chronicles of this story, I will try to narrate the sequences of events leading to the illegal extension of his mandate. Many saw Farmajo’s 1P1V as impractical and unrealistic. It was a sinister ploy on his part to extract concessions for an extension of his mandate. Nevertheless, Farmaajo and Heads of FMSs came together in a number of meetings in Dusamareb and Mogadishu, and through hard bargaining, Farmajo abandoned his demand for 1P1V. He had immediately and unilaterally instituted, though, FGS electoral commission packed up with supporters and government officials. This was unacceptable to Puntland and Jubaland administrations. Finally, a consensus had emerged in Mogadishu Meeting of September 17, 2020. What was left to attend was how to implement it. A deadlock ensued afterwards. A meeting to resolve this latest impasse collapsed in DusaMareb-4, Galmudugh, as Farmajo simply walked away from the meeting, while he was aware of the fact that his four-year mandate would end in just a few days.

Under intense pressure from Somalia”s International Partners, Joint Technical Committee from FGS and FMSs had reached a compromise consensus towards resolving the contentious election issues in Baidoa following Dusamareb Fiasco. This required from the political leaders to come together for a signing ceremony and to work out protocols for the implementation of these agreements. Some issues on the security of the meeting venue in Mogadishu were raised by the administrations of Puntland and Jubaland. Farmajo insisted hosting the meeting in Villa Somalia. That was non-starter for Puntland and Jubaland Heads of administrations as mistrust between them and Farmajo had reached at new heights. While awaiting for that meeting to take place, and before heads of Jubaland and Puntland arrive in Mogadishu, the Council of Presidential Candidates had staged public demonstrations in the Capital Mogadishu. Armed clashes between FGS security forces and opposition followed and two former presidents’ hotel residence in town, Hassan sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, was fired at by FGS security forces. Things got tense in Mogadishu.

Finally presidents Deni of Puntland and Madobe of Jubaland had arrived in Mogadishu under the promise of security protection by AMISOM and other International Partners. They were housed at Airport Hotel, Decale. After much juggling and much delays due to the absence of some heads of other FMSs, the meeting finally kick-started between Farmajo and FMSs. They couldn’t agree on the agenda, given what had transpired in Mogadishu since September 17 Agreement. Puntland and Jubaland demanded accountability for Farmajo’s actions. Just before that happened, a new forum, the Somali Salvation Council composed of CDC, Somaliland Group led the Speaker of the Upper House of Federal Parliament, Abdi Hashi, Puntland and Jubaland was inaugurated in Mogadishu. This had put unbearable political pressure on Farmajo. This had further complicated issues at hand.

Like he did in Dusamareb Meeting, Farmajo had walked away from the Mogadishu Airport Meeting, claiming the meeting had collapsed through his Spokesman, Information Minister, Dube. People in the know said that Dube’s announcement on the collapse of meeting was pre-recorded, confirming the notion that Farmajo didn’t want the meeting to succeed in the first place, as he was planning to extend his mandate through only one lower chamber of Federal Parliament, an unconstitutional move. Both chambers have to concur on such legislation, and neither of them is in good standing now as their four-year term or mandate had expired in December of last year.

On April 12, 2021, the Lower House of Parliament (People’s House) had made unprecedented and unconstitutional move by MPs whose legislative terms had expired, to extend the mandate of both House of parliament and President for two more years, effectively closing all doors to negotiated settlement of the outstanding governance issues. The act sent shockwaves nationally and worldwide. It was hard to believe the news. As expected, the move has sparked off national and international condemnations. It looks sanctions against Somali individuals in the Farmajo Government leading to this unconstitutional decision, would follow. In the meantime, the modest gains of the people of Somalia during the course of a decade in re-building their country are at stake. Somalis now desperately need help more than ever before in preventing tyranny to take hold in the country again. There is a potential as well for the country to backslide into chaos, anarchy and violence.

The solution now lies in imposing effective and comprehensive international sanctions against the perpetrators of the unconstitutional extension of FGS mandates and compell them to return to the negotiation national table in order to deliberate on holding free and fair elections in 2021.

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  1. Pingback: HOW DID SOMALIA COME TO THIS POLITICAL QUAGMIRE? – WDM SOMALIA MONITOR. "Get Used to Free Press"

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