Thursday, July 19, 2012
The Independent Federal Constitution Commission, IFCC, was tasked by Transitional Federal Institutions, TFIs, to draft a constitution for Somalia ; the commission has completed its task on July 30th, 2010 .
On the subject of Mogadishu status, the draft constitution has proposed three options that may be used to determine the organization of Banadir region or Mogadishu city .
The commission has visited different parts of Somalia and outside of Somalia too, to consult with Somalis on matters regarding the draft constitution ; during these consultations, the commission has managed to collect wide range of views on relevant subjects of the constitution, and subsequently succeeded in publishing them, on July 30th, 2011 .
Among the views collected and published regarding the status of Mogadishu were the views of prominent residents of the town and its current regional administration, under the governorship of Mohamed Ahmed Nuur, Tarsan .
They chose the first option, not the second or the third one .
The first option envisions Mogadishu being located in regional Banadir administration, where its status is negotiated by its local government and the central government. The two governments may also reach a wide range of agreements on matters regarding security, pubic installations, and revenues and so on and so forth, to the satisfaction of both parties .
This is not something new; Mogadishu had always its own local government, most capital cities do, or what Somalis call Dowladda hoose, even during Siyad Barre era.
The rationale submitted by the governor to the commission regarding his choice and the choice of others in the city centers around the principle of representation : residents of Banadir will be represented in various branches of the central government, if the first option is chosen; if, however, other options are chosen, they will not. The whole argument boils down to that of representation .
Why representation is so important? If one has representation in various branches of the government, one will have legitimate means to address grievances, protect and advance interests. Politics, after all, is about give and take.
The choice, viewing at it from a year later, appears to have been a visionary one. Roadmap signatories envision two chambers for Somalia : where one is based on clans, the lower chamber, in the interim at least, before such time as general election is possible, and the other one is based on regions, former 18 regions of Somalia during Siyad Barre era, this being the upper chamber. Banadir is one of the 18 regions of Somalia, so it will have three representatives in the upper chamber, provided one chooses the first option proposed by IFCC.
The new draft constitution signed in Nairobi, Kenya, in June 22, 2012 by the signatories of Mogadishu consultative conference in September, 2011, or the roadmap, as it is known, substitutes the three options of Mogadishu organization proposed by the IFCC, including the chosen one, with another option, article 9, that reserves for Somalia’s two parliaments, one to be inaugurated soon, in months, and another later, in years, the right to determine the status of Mogadishu or its fate without consultations to its local government.
If article 9 is accepted, Mogadishu will lack representatives at least in one of these chambers, the upper chamber, where its fate will be determined, including its revenues.
In nutshell, Mogadishu will not negotiate with the federal government to come up with a solution that is acceptable to all parties concerned, rather the federal institutions will come up with solutions on their own accord, and since the head of the federal government will appoint the governor of Banadir region, Mogadishu will lack not only lack legitimate means to negotiate but also legal means to protect and advance its interests. This is what will happen if article nine of Nairobi draft constitution is passed in the constituent assembly in late July, this year, 2012.
What to do?
Remove article 9 in the final draft and replace it with option one located in the draft constitution submitted by the IFCC in July, 2010, and then pass it in the national constituent assembly to be convened in late July; doing so will allow Mogadishu to determine its political fate, as well as its other fates.
The residents should demand this option and they should get it. Failing to do so, they should demonstrate until they secure representations in all branches of the federal government.
Among the signatories of the Nairobi draft constitution is none other other than a man who counts the city as his hometown, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed of Somalia. Reasons as to why he signed the document while this article was in it, is not known, but it was his standard position to leave the fate of the city to Somalia’s parliament, as he stated it in several occasions.
The president may win or lose in August 20th, this year, but Mogadishu should not win or lose in the same date. The two fates ought to not be combined.
If the president establishes a parliament for the the city, through presidential decree, the powers to elect the future governor of the Banadir region will be vested in them, thereby allowing Mogadishu’s to continue to determine their own political fate, whether the president wins or loses. If however, he does not do that and loses the presidency in August 20th, then whoever wins shall decide who will lead this town. This is what I mean by not combining the two fates in August, this year, that of the region and that of the president. They appear to be intertwined as we speak.
It is true that the president will lose the powers that allow him to appoint or fire a regional governor for Banadir region and such power may be assumed by people who have their own personal interests to promote in addition to their own constituencies.
No one, it appears, wishes to reduce his or her own power, every one, appear, to increase it. For this reason, he may, if he wishes, work with elders of the town to select a parliament that is more friendly to him; such arrangement, of course, will not be acceptable when general election is possible; by then residents of the town will elect who will lead them; in the interim, however, such arrangement should be seen as nothing but a mechanism intended to protect the interests of the town until general or local election is possible.
But Mogadishu’s predicament appears to apply equally to other regions of south-central Somalia ; according to article 49, section 2, stipulated in the draft constitution , adopted in Nairobi by the roadmap signatories: every region must unite with another, no region is allowed to stand alone; if regions stands alone, then the federal government will appoint leaders for them; they will lose the right to elect their own leaders indirectly, as is happening now in Puntland and Galmudug, where leaders are elected by local parliament. We are proposing the same for Mogadishu and for other regions in south-central Somalia.
Unification is difficult process, so the federal government by default gains the right to govern much of south-central Somalia. This article should be removed. It is simply a power grab or so it appears. People should determine their own fate, including the structure of their government; they should not be mandated to have this structure or that structure, that is not the right thing to do. It is pure misuse of power.
If, however, this article passes in the national constituent assembly, then whoever wins in august 20th, will have the power to appoint or fire people who will govern much of south-central Somalia, too much power to gain. This power, however, will be gained at the expanse of local people who will not have the right to elect their own leaders indirectly until such time arrives as to be able to elect their leaders directly. The appointed leaders will be less responsive to the local people, but more responsive to those who have appointed them.
Article 49 should be replaced with an article that mandates the federal government to help regions select local parliament, just as happening now at the national level, and then the parliament should elect speaker, courts and a governor of the region. The governor should then work with the parliament to create conditions under which people can directly elect who will lead them. Of course, all regions plus the federal government must cooperate for this end, general and local elections.
It ought to be remembered that the real problem in Somalia and much of the Middle East and Africa, and elsewhere too, is leadership that is not responsive to the needs and aspirations of its local population. Another factor that I discussed elsewhere is local people, and their relatives in the diaspora, should pay taxes, to pay their leaders. When elected, even indirectly, and paid by local people, leaders tend to be responsive and if they don’t, they should lose money and support. If other well wishers are willing to help, that is fine too, but people should not count on them alone.
I once again take this opportunity to ask the president not to bet the fate of his hometown, and that of many other regions and his own, but to do the right thing: a) remove article 9 from the draft constitution and replace it with option one of the draft constitution submitted by the IFCC and by Banadir regional administration and prominent residents of Mogadishu; b) establish a parliament that is vested with powers to determine the fate of Banadir region; c) also remove article 49, section 2 of Nairobi draft constitution, signed in June, 2012, and replace it with one that gives people power to determine their own political fate, by means of indirect elections, as is happening now in Puntland and elsewhere.
This policy is a policy that can ensure lasting victory against Shebab, a group with extreme political and social views as well as with a disposition to govern tyrannically. People will defend their freedoms. Shebab by their own stated statements again and again are not willing to recognize the right of the people to determine their own political fate indirectly and directly when conditions allow; for this reason, people will see them as enemies to be defeated and they will defeat them by helping the police and the army with money and foot soldiers as well as with determination to do so. This, we ought to remember, is an ideological anti-dote to Shebabism as such.
We have historic opportunity to defeat the tyrannical Shebab by empowering ordinary Somalis. If we don’t, Shebab will say at least we can offer a better security and less corruption, so better us than them, an argument that is hard to defeat, and whoever wins the argument, generally wins the war, that is the primary lesson of history, to anyone who has paid attention to it, for men and women don’t persist in wars for money or power, but they do for a cause; Wars given their high risk for death, generate ultimate questions in the mind of their participants, what to die for? He, who can answer this question satisfactorily, shall persist, despite myriad hardships.
Act when you can, now; give power to the people and that is what Islam asks us to do, shura, their matters, the Noble Quran says, is consultations among them. Shura, and its modern version, elections, and its system of laws, shall defeat tyrannical Shebab, nothing else as far as I know shall do; I came to this conclusion after long years of research, study and meditation on the subject. End.
 See number 4.
 See number 4, especially the section 3.8, titled: Public Consultation with Regional States and Administrations, pp12-13.
 See number 7.
 See number 7.
 See number 7.