Sunday November 15, 2015
By Abdihbaib Y. Warsame. AKA. Ali Warsame
August 2016 approaching and the current Somalia leadership having proven
incapable to deliver elections for the Somali people in 2016, the most frequently
asked question remains: “What is going to happen in 2016?” The question begs
for much more substantive discussion than the cosmetic answer offered by the
current Federal Government (FG) leadership. We’re only nine months away from
August 2016, and yet there is no election model entrenched in the political
system, nor institutions sophisticated enough to withstand the potential mayhem
that often emerge from ‘microwaved’ elections. It is outright negligence, but
the rumor has it that the current Somalia leadership seemed to knowingly ignore
this pressing problem of needing to lay the foundation for open and transparent
elections in hopes of residual power.
from where I sit, if elections equate ‘power transfer’ with some type of pilot
elections there may be a slight chance of success. Nonetheless, I would caution
the risk of a piecemeal approach that too often prompts political tensions and
could lead to an outcome of fiasco proportions.
Options Debated Thus Far
explore the options debated thus far and analyze their implications:
leaders selecting and appointing members of parliament
legitimacy,” a term ‘coined’ by the current Federal Government
The 4.5 option. The
common theme and recurring argument rallied against the 4.5 option is that it seems
to embolden backward thinking, a lack of innovation, and an unequal
distribution of power. Somalia has utilized the 4.5 model for over a decade and
always produced the same outcome. Naturally, 4.5 produces poor-quality MP’s who
in return elect low-quality Presidents who are unlikely going to attract
capable ministers. The law of attraction says, “You attract what you are.” Similarly,
the law of harvest says, “If you sow an apple seed, you will only harvest an
apple, not an orange.” The theory is that with 4.5 you’re going to get what you
have always got…nothing more…nothing less!
leaders appointing MP’s. The
notion of handing over the nation’s future to a few actors is quite a dangerous
one, and at best, undemocratic. The idea is fundamentally bankrupt
and obviously rewards only a few people, and threatens the legitimate interests
of others, and above all, ignores the voices of the majority public. In theoretical perspective, this model validates the old
anecdote which argues that “Somalia politics is self-centered.” How on earth
state actors and outgoing government
leaders would appoint
accountable and responsible MP’s is beyond imagination. By all accounts, this
approach is ludicrous, and at best, deceptive to the Somali people.
Enhanced legitimacy. This
option has been given a wrong name and should be called ‘extension legitimacy.’ Either way, this option will be a hard sell for those whose core belief is that
the federal government should have a minimal role in deciding how elections will
take place in 2016. It is helpful to reflect upon and acknowledge the feeling
of disconnect and mistrust between the current federal government and its
citizens. Many contend that the current Somali government failed to engage an effective
command of governance that is satisfactory
to the standards of Somali people. In addition, this option
lacks explicit details and therefore raises more questions than answers. The consequences
from this option are staggering, especially the key structural issues that extend beyond the current
jurisdiction which Somalia is in control of. Another provision with this model
that raises eyebrows is the idea of delivering thousands of people from their
respective districts/cities and delivering them to the capital cities of the regional
states. This proposal is not only ill advised, but it’s quite a disservice to
those citizens who could simply cast their votes while remaining in their
District Election Model. While the idea sparked many comments and drew a lot of
attraction, from a practical point of view, full-fledged district elections are
impossible to hold before a number of pieces come together.
Perennial challenges include
count of Somalia population, voter identification, line demarcation
of distinct boundaries, etc. In order to
ensure the likely success of district elections, the above measures must be met.
Pilot elections based on district model. While this model may not be without
pitfalls, it is the only model that can strike a true compromise, and could
deliver a rigorous outcome within a very short time span. Correspondingly, this will safeguard the integrity of the process, preempt election fraud, and give access to many individuals and groups who have
traditionally been marginalized through the 4.5 model. Furthermore, many
theories support the idea that the best way to organize and control elections
is through a district level process.
District Election Model: How does it work?
identify and send 5-10 delegates to represent them in their district
conference. Depending on the size of the district, around 150-250 delegates
will elect a Member of Parliament. Simply put, counties are the means to
selecting delegates using a show of hands. Normally, these members will
represent their county at the district convention. As manifested in the Constitution,
the apportionment clause explicitly states that “all Federal Member States
should have an equal number of representatives in the Upper House of the
Federal Parliament.” In the current House of the People of the Federal
Parliament, seats are apportioned based on 4.5. In this model, parliament seats
are apportioned among the states based on district. I’m not a philosophical
king, but this model is perfect for a federal system, because the Federal law
doesn't dictate how the states choose their delegates, so individual states
decide what process to use. Furthermore, this model is not only cost-effective
but is manageable, especially given the time and resources we have available.
The model also deters election fraud and the potential influence of both the
federal and state governments, and above all, people will go home feeling the
decision takes place in a safe environment that is free from repression.
Democracy rests on its structural process and on increasing accountability and
legitimacy of government. The government must acquire power through elections
to gain wide recognition and to reduce the impact of those in opposition to legitimate
Who will develop the rules?
The total number of delegates each county will have to send
to the district convention is dictated by state rules. The state will determine
the number of delegates through a formula factoring in county/district size by
counting the counties in a district. Secondly, the state will have the mandate to
manage the election process together with traditional elders and civil society
groups if needed.
How will counties decide their delegates?
With the help of
the state government, the counties will gather, discuss and vote for candidates
of their choice that will represent them in the district conference. Typically,
5-10 people vote for one delegate per county. Alternatively, as time and
resources mark a sharp threat, Issimo and regional leaders together with civil
society may task this selection.
What if there is no State?
controlled territories or areas where state government has not yet been
established, the Federal government will have to define the role of the traditional
elders and civil society groups to appoint their potential Member of
Parliament. This has to be done in recognition of the fact that the roles are
clear and openly defined.
Total number of people voting?
this model, roughly between twenty-five thousand (25,000) to thirty thousand
(30,000) people will come out on Election Day and cast their votes for both the
Upper House and the Senate. Considering the situation Somalia currently is confronted
with, this will be quite a milestone. More importantly, this will be a preparatory phase for
full district elections the next time around.
are brief QA; however, if you wish to read the whole article, feel free to
download it from my blog: www.2016blueprint.org or email me @ [email protected]
Yasin Warsame can be reach at [email protected]