The Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia adopted a democratic system of government with checks and balance of power between three branches of government. Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has three levels of governance: 1. Shared level (dawladda dhexe) 2. A Federal Member State (Dawladd-Gobolleed) or FMS. 3. Local District Council (Gole deegaan). Like any other similar federal system, the first two levels have their own separate constitutions and three branches of government. Sovereignity remains with the Central Government of the Somali Republic. The system is still evolving and needs further work in harmonizing the constitutions. Formation of FMS must satisfy the requirement of unification of two regions or more to be constitutionally legitimate. A FMS has powers expanding into regions and districts within the state.
Contrary to the behavior of the Somalia’s current President, the Executive Powers of the Government rest on the Cabinet and powers of the President and Prime Minister are clearly spelled out in the Federal Constitution. The President appoints the Prime Minister, but he cannot fire him. Only the Parliament has power to fire both the President and Prime Minister.
In summary, Somali Federal Constitution is similar to that of USA. The President of a FMS is the same as the Governor of a US state, who is elected to a fixed term in Office. Similarly, in Somalia the Federal Authorities cannot fire or appoint a FMS President, in the same way US President cannot do. Political agreements between FGS and FMS are by consensus similar to the case of Canadian Federalism. In many ways, Federal Constitution has similarities with that of UK and Northern Ireland system of government with strong devolution of power to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Economic resources and fiscal responsibilities are shared by special arrangements, agreements between Central Government and Federal Member States by consensus. Unlike ethnic federalism of Ethiopia, the central authorities in Somalia have no much sway in internal affairs of FMS.
Finally, Somali Federal Constitution came about as a de facto (not de jure), following the civil war and the re-instatement of Central Somali Government accepted that reality on the ground into the Federal Constitution. It was the only way to try to restore lost trust between warring clans.
Still, some portions of Somali people believe that a form of federalism called “Confederalism” is the best option. They say Somali clans by nature are confederal entities like Darood, Hawiye, Dir etc. What suits them most is the confederalism of Swiss type, where Cantons has most powers and an elected Prime Minister (Cabinet) has the Executive Powers of the Government, while the Presidency is a rotating ceremonial role between Cantons.
Ongoing controversy on the Somali Constitution, if not resolved soon, may lead to the breakup of Somalia. It is a dangerous crossroad for Somalia’s survival as a state. Warning. Let us act now.
[This article has been updated since posting].