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The Somali Federation: The Dual-State Solution

by Aman H.D. Obsiye



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26 June 1960 what was known as British Somaliland cease to exist. The first Somali territory freed its self from the shackles of colonialism.  1 July 1960, what was known as Italian Somaliland became free and merged with former British Somaliland to form an independent Somali nation-state.


The political agreement between the two former colonies and the structure of governmental power, established the foundation for failure.  The authoritarian regime of Siad Barre further exacerbated the predestined faith of the Somali nation-state. 


If you build your house on an extremely weak foundation, any minor occurrence by nature can have your house ruined.  The same goes for nation-states, hence, why after a regime falls, some nation-states stay intact while others become utterly ruined.  The foundation established in 1960 (and subsequently 1969, Barre’s coup) is to blame for the destruction of the Somali nation-state.


If the Somali Resurrection is to take place, than the foundation for the new Somali nation-state must be magnanimous, pragmatic, and palatable to the Somali.  It must correct the mistake of the 1960 union.


The mistake of the 1960 Somali union was the misdistribution of power between the North (former British Somaliland) and the South (former Italian Somaliland).  This led to corruption and governmental post given to unqualified candidates.


The Somali Federation is the only cure to the Somali situation.  The new Somali nation-sate, henceforth, the Somali Federation, is based on a dual-state solution. 




The foundation for the new Somali nation-state must be based on federalism.  Through federalism, the Somali nation-state, which has been dead and buried since 1991, can rise out of the ashes like the phoenix, what I call: the Somali Resurrection.


Federalism is the only way forward for the Somalis, but not clan based federalism.  The enclave known as Puntland has the right idea but is taking the wrong approach.  It is correct in conveying to the international community, that the new Somali nation-state must be a federation.  It is incorrect in pursing federal clan-states.  A federal state based on clan is a disastrous approach to rebuilding a nation. 


Federal Clan-States Are Disastrous


If federal states are based on clans, than how shall the new federal states be drawn?  This task will invite more war and bloodshed to the Somali territories.  Puntland and Somaliland are both peaceful Somali enclaves, but are currently in a state of war with each other over disputed territories.  Both Puntland and Somaliland claim the territories for their enclaves.  This scenario will occur repeatedly across the Somali territories if the federal states are based on clans.


Also, federal clan-states will eventually lead to Balkanized federal states.  If a federal state is based on a clan, than eventually sub-clans, sub-sub clans, sub-sub-sub clans, etc (within the federal clan-state) will vie for their own federal state.  We have seen this happen in the peaceful enclave of Puntland.  Puntland, which is based on a sub-clan, almost became fragmented when two sub-sub-clans vied for their own federal states: Maakhir State and Northland State.  Puntland was able to temporally dissuade the two sub-sub-clans, but eventually, federal clan-states will Balkanize. 


Lastly, how will citizenry be determined in federal clan-states?  Will clans be told to leave a particular federal clan-state and move to their federal clan-state? Federal clan-states will bring numerous problems to the Somali political arena.  It will bring an unwanted dimension to the already complex and complicated inter-clan relations. 


Dual-State Solution


If Somalis are not to base their Federation on federal clan-states, than what are they suppose to base it on?  The dual-state solution is the corrective measure to solving the 1960 union problem and the federal clan-state dilemma. 


The Somali Federation shall have two federal states and one district: the Northern State and the Southern State.  The Northern State’s border and the Southern State’s border shall be former British Somaliland and former Italian Somaliland, respectively. 


The capital of the Northern State and the Southern state shall be Hargeysa and Garowe, respectively.  The capital of the Somali Federation shall be Mogadishu.  


The sole district shall be called: the Capital’s District.  The jurisdiction of the Capital’s District shall be Mogadishu and present-day Benadir.  The Capital’s District shall be an executive district, thus given unique rules and status. 


The dual-state solution brings two partners (the North and the South) together to form a more perfect union for the Somali people.  It is the only viable solution to the current crisis in the Somali territories.  


The dual-state solution promotes a more democratic and pluralistic Somali nation-state than a federal clan-state solution does.  The Northern State and the Southern State are inhibited by multiple clans, thus preventing Balkanization and authoritarian one-clan domination.  It also nurtures democratic and merit based politics.   


Bureaucracy and corruption shall be limited with the dual-state solution.   Two federal states, in comparison with five or six, will make elections easier to manage, fund, and more importantly, held accountable.   Also, five or six federal states will be accompanied by five or six federal parliaments, straining needed resources.  The dual-state solution promotes efficiency, accountability, and effectiveness. 


The Northern State and the Southern State shall be semi-autonomous in their economic, political, and social affairs, as long as they avoid transgression from the constitution of the Somali Federation.  All citizens of the Somali Federation are granted free movement in both respective states.  


Both federal states (the North and the South) shall have their own constitutions that strictly govern their specific jurisdiction.  Both federal states shall adhere to a single constitution that loosely governs the entire Somali Federation. 


Basic criteria in the constitution of the Somali Federation include full democratic rule, with direct elections for the president and parliament as well as direct elections for federal state posts.  Human rights must be respected in the Somali Federation.  Basic human freedoms must be granted, such as freedom of speech, freedom of the press, etc.


President, Prime Minister, and Sultans


The Somali Federation shall have a Head of State: the President.  The President shall be directly elected in a national democratic election.  The President shall serve five year terms. 


The Somali Federation shall have a Head of Government: the Prime Minister.  The Prime Minister shall be appointed by the President.


If the President is from the Northern State, his/her Prime Minister shall be from the Southern State, and vice versa.  This insures that both federal states are properly represented in the executive branch.


The Northern and Southern State shall each have a Sultan.  The Sultan shall be the leading authority of his/her federal state. 


Sultans must be directly elected by the citizens in their jurisdiction.  The President shall not have the power to appoint Sultans.


Legislature of the Somali Federation


The Somali Federation shall have a bicameral national legislature.


The first section of the Somali Federation’s national parliament shall be: the House of the People. The House of the People shall be elected by the citizens of their respective federal states.  The Northern State and the Southern State shall have equal representation in the House of the People, one-hundred seats for the North and one-hundred seats for the South.  The main responsibility will be enacting the rules set by the Somali Federation’s constitution.  They will focus on setting and implementing national laws.  They will focus on national policies affecting the Somali Federation as well as foreign affairs.  The House of the People has veto powers over the executive branch as long as two-thirds agree.


Since Islam is an integral part of the Somali societal fabric and every constitution that currently exists in the Somali territories (Somaliland, Puntland, TFG) claims to be based and complementary with Islam, it is only logical to include this ingredient in the Somali Federation (or face revolt from the Somali).


Thus, the second section of the Somali Federation’s national parliament shall be: the House of the Scholars.  The responsibilities of the House of Scholars shall be to insure that the laws passed by the House of the People are complementary with Islam.  Another major role it will play is to dislodge the influence of incorrect interpretations of Islamic law and blockade the advancement of extremism. 


The House of Scholars will be a small legislative body, consisting of fifteen members.  Those who serve in it shall be nominated.  This will be the only section of parliament that will not be directly elected democratically.  Those who serve in the House of Scholars must have an accredited degree in Islamic law.  


Legislature of the Northern and Southern State


The Northern and Southern State shall have a bicameral legislature and its size shall be specifically decided by each federal state.


The first section of the federal-state parliament shall be: the House of the Elders.  The House of Elders will be our traditional leaders who will be elected by their clans (usually considered the chiefs).  They will have the responsibility of stabilizing clan disputes, normalizing clan relations, and reserving traditions.


The second section of the federal-state parliament shall be: the House of the Locals. The House of the Locals shall be elected by the citizens in their respective federal states.  The main responsibility will be enacting the rules set by the Somali Federation’s constitution and their respective federal states’ constitution.   The House of the Locals shall focus on policies affecting their respective federal states.




The political identity, and consequently, the political loyalty of the Somali must be drastically altered.  The crisis of the Somali territories has made the Somali politically immature.  Current Somali political leaders have further exacerbated this political immaturity.        


Man, as a political beast, has Civilizational Loyalties.  My theory of Civilizational Loyalty states that your Civilizational Loyalty corresponds with your political maturity.  The political beast’s first political loyalty lies with his clan (if applicable), than his state/province, next his nation, and last his civilization (i.e. John’s loyalty begins with Ontario, than Canada, followed by the Western Civilization).


The Somali is politically immature, not moving pass clan loyalty, which is the most primitive form of political loyalty.  Western nations are the most politically mature, moving furthest towards Civilizational Loyalty through NATO.    


The Somali must move from clan loyalty to federal state loyalty, than further towards national loyalty.   The dual-state solution will politically mature the Somali and move him/her forward in their Civilizational Loyalty. 


The Somali Resurrection will only occur if a palatable political solution, based on magnanimity and logic, is provided to the Somali.  The dual-state is that solution.  The Somali Federation corrects the contract made in 1960 and protects the Somali nation-state from Balkanization.


The Somali Federation places power in the hand of the collective Somali people and insures that the Somali nation-state is a vehicle to prosperity.   It facilitates resources more effectively and efficiently than any other proposed solution; the Somali Federation answers the needs of the Somali. 


For the Somali to move forward in his/her Civilizational Loyalty, he/she must have a blueprint that guides him/her.  This is the blueprint to the Somali Resurrection.

Aman H.D. Obsiye
E-mail: [email protected]


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