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A Symbolical Break with the Somali 4.5 Clan Power-Sharing Formula:

By Hassanwali Moallim K
Saturday, November 10, 2012


“Politics is a contest among people of diverse backgrounds and philosophies, advocating different solutions to common problems. The system only works when principled, energetic people participate”. (By Bob Ehrlich)


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Today is November 9, 2012. It is the 23rd anniversary to the fall of Berlin Wall in 1989. This is not to explore the history and context of that event, but the event bears some striking similarities to what transpired in Mogadishu yesterday.


The Berlin Wall was a physical actuality ideally separated the Democratic West from the Communist Bloc.  It was taken down on November 9, 1989. Many people thought it was a symbol of the Cold War.


In a similar tone, the Somali 4.5 Clan Power-Sharing Formula was an abstract concept that further fragmented the Somali society and nearly drove it to the verge of losing the sense of community. It was broken on November 8, 2012. Many people thought the 4.5 was a symbol of the transitional mentality.  


The 4.5 Somali Clan Power-sharing formula (four major clans and a half clan) from 2000 to 2012 is a mirror image of the Berlin Wall that separated the city Berlin in Germany from 1961 to 1989 during the cold war era.


Those of you, who followed the news or read it, have probably noted the event. Yesterday November 8, 2012, a large rally, in Support of the lean clan complaint Cabinet, gathered, in Mogadishu's Stadium Conis in Abdiaziz district, where thousands of demonstrators of Mogadishu residents took to the streets to show their full support and approval with the newly nominated cabinet ministers.


One assertively noticeable sight was the young girls attired in the national flag who were holding and waving placards that said “10” probably signifying the number of the newly formed lean cabinet Ministers.



Another forcefully convincing view was the national band, Waberi Troupe that was performing national songs in an effort to rally the local people in favor of the newly formed cabinet.


The new prime minister, Mr. Saa’id has called on the public to rally behind the government. “We have understood and taken note of your message and expectations”, he said. The Prime Minister cut his political teeth on collapse of the 4.5. He sure has seen the bigger picture, Somalia


The organizers and the demonstrators seemed to have well understood the lingering sway and influence of the 4.5 as a symbolical representation of the transition. It was probably clear to them that as long as the formula is not terminated in public once and for all, Somalis would remain divided on clan lines; therefore, they incarnated it as a glass in the frame of a mirror and smashed it to pieces so as not to allow the formula to echo through the ages. The mood was: from today on, no more of the mirror for a reflection of political allocation and participation in the new Somalia.


Many people thought the 4.5 was a symbol of the transitional mentality.  They believed that it was the incarnation of everything evil about politics. Although it could reasonably linger on in the memory for some long, the formula is no longer there. It was broken on November 8, 2012. That did not only finally mark the end of the 4.5, but also heralded the beginning of the transformation that is expected to usher in an era of state-building as clannish attitudes and statehood are mutually exclusive.


The formula was basically devised as the basis for political dispensation and national reconciliation and applied for the first time during the Arta Somali Peace Conference in 2000 just to continue as the Modus operandi for the subsequent processes of the national reconciliation initiatives. This way of thinking would shape Somali political structures for the next decade and so. Above all, it unfortunately extended to almost all spheres of government structures from ambassadorial posts to department directors.


Somalis of all walks of life are fully aware of the injustices of the system as it defused internal conflict within each sub-clan, but they have painstakingly waited for the right time and the right leaders to come to power with the political will of dealing with it. As there was no an alternative method offhand at the time, they just closed their eyes and swallowed it by taking it on as a temporary political compromise and subject to change until a new Somali political arrangements would present itself. 


History has it that the Soviet president Mikhail Gorbachev’s introduction of two NEW BOLD POLICES (“glasnost," or political openness, and "perestroika," or economic reform) and USA President Richard Nixon’s implementation of A NEW APPROACH to international relations by using diplomacy instead of military action, in late 80’s of the twentieth century, were the brave moves that laid the basis for the fall of the Berlin Wall and subsequent end of the Cold War.

While Somalia's long hard road of state building is yet to take off the ground and far from celebrating, the bold predictions of a new dawn in Somalia seem to be coming true. The change which the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia, H. E. Hassan Sheikh Mohamud promised and called for during and after his election is slowly holding. It is hoped that the state building plan prioritized in the foundation pillars of the president and promise of the prime minister will bridge the gulf among the Somali clans.


Since the adoption of the provisional Federal Constitution down to the election of the Somali president and formation of the cabinet ministers five days ago on November 4, 2012, besides Somalis inside and in the Diaspora, the UN and its member countries of the international community including the neighboring countries and the international organizations, have welcomed the new Somalia in its new status of fully fledged permanent state as a gesture of the expected paradigm shift that defines the international community’s re-engagement with Somalia. We hope these positive signs will continue to materialize in the form of Somalis standing shoulder to shoulder to seize the opportunity of reinstituting of their nation-state as well as the international community respecting the sovereignty and the political independence of the new Somalia.


It is a reality that Somalia has turned a corner by emerging from the transition to permanent government. The bold move by president Mohamud and his Prime Minister Saa’id represents two significant insinuations: One is the fact of rendering the 4.5 formula and clan considerations irrelevant when it comes to setting up effective functioning government. This indicates that clan balance is not vital in public service and political life.

The other significant point is the landmark inclusion of women in the political life in hard way by giving two key ministries in lean government to women. Let us hope that the new administration brings twelve years of transitional order to an end and restores security and rebuild the country's shattered economy as the prime minister promises it.


As the proverb goes “Give credit where credit is due”, hopefully, at one point, Somalis will praise President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon for their principled course of action.


Let me conclude my writing by availing myself of this opportunity to pay tribute to the former president of Somali Transitional Federal Government, Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, the Transitional Federal Government, and to all those who honestly worked with them, for the principled leadership that ended the prolonged transition.

By Hassanwali Moallim K

[email protected]

Mogadishu, Somalia


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