Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Ads By Google
Je Suis Point Five!: Somalia’s Political Power Sharing System – the Discriminatory and Unjust Treatment of Minority Clans
By Omar Said Imam Abasheikh, Barrister
Saturday, February 4, 2017

Somalia’s political power sharing system is discriminatory and unjust towards the minority clans. This treatment could be ended by legal action.

To put Somalia’s discriminatory and unjust political power sharing system into context, consider whether it would be inaccurate to submit that there are more Donald Trumps in Somalia than in the United States of America. On 8 February 2017, or whenever it may be, 283 members of the Federal Parliament of the Federal Republic of Somalia (“Somalia”) will choose a President to rule the country for the next four years. On Sunday 29 January 2017 24presidential aspirants, including incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud; former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed; present Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke; former Prime Minister Mohammed Abdullahi Farmaajo; former Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi; and Puntland’s former Minister of Education Dr. Ali Haji Warsame, to name but a few, paid US$30,000 to register their candidacy for a chance to hold the most prestigious office in any country.

This is at a time when the world is crying over the President of the United States of America (US/USA) Donald Trump’s legally binding Executive Order dated 27 January 2017 which bans the citizens of Syria, Iran, Sudan, Libya, Somalia, Yemen and Iraq from entering the USA for a period of 90 days and completely suspends the USA’s refugee system for a period of 120 days. The Order gives preference to Christian over Muslim refugees. Furthermore, the cap on the total number of refugees the US will accept in 2017 is 50,000 as opposed to 110,000. Of significance is the purpose of this extreme measure, which is to vet terrorists out of the country. Reaction from politicians and diplomats has surpassed all expectations. Sadiq Khan, Major of London calls the Order “cruel and shameful” and the UK's Home Secretary Amber Rudd called it “divisive” and “wrong”.

Ambassador Michael Keating, the U.N. envoy to Somalia said, on 28 January 2017, that “We need a president who is seen as legitimate because, otherwise, all the issues that need to be tackled in the coming years will be much more difficult”. Why a quest for legitimacy? I am overly interested in this word ‘legitimate’. This adjective means “conforming to the law or to rules”; able to be defended with logic or justification; valid; or make lawful or justify”. How is legitimacy to be achieved when Somalia’s present political power sharing system, the very foundation of the voting system, is based on discrimination and injustice! The power sharing system is called the ‘four point five (4.5) system’. So far as this structure is concerned the four major tribes1  are ‘complete’ whereas the minority clans are ‘partial’ citizens of the country. Purportedly the arrangement, which was adopted at the Somalia National Peace Conference in Arta, Republic of Djibouti, in 2000, is legitimate because of the perception by the major tribes; to whom it is truly addressed. Such tribes defend the system as logical, valid, and lawful. Why would they not when it is in their interest to do so do! Yet, none of the last four presidents since 20002  have thought to deal with this insidious problem. Franck3  writes about legitimacy to reveal what makes both States and its citizens perceive rules as legitimate. He found that greater compliance is achieved when the laws, institutions, systems, or policies appear more legitimate. Legitimacy in the 4.5 system is based on the acceptance by the major tribes that Somalia is for them only and not for those from the minority clans because of their ancestral origins4.

Ads By Google
As it can be seen, in the 21st century it is not the US President who started a cruel, shameful and divisive political regime but it is Somalia which actually holds the gold medal for this by publicly declaring for the last 17 years that there are human beings in the country who are incomplete because of their ethnicity. Yet, no one is condemning Somalia for this, least of all not the majority tribes who are advantaged by this division. Trump discriminates against Muslims. These ethnicities are Muslims! Trump excluded non-Americans from USA. These minorities are Somalis, and have been for 1,000 of years! Trump wants to build a wall to prevent Mexicans from entering the USA. These minorities would benefit from walls around their cities and towns so that they can completely detach themselves from the country’s never ending civil war; particularly on the premise that the Federal States have now boxed them in even more. On the basis of this express discrimination, more so in the last 17 years, it would indeed be accurate to submit that there are more Donald Trumps in Somalia than in the United States of America.

This is not a political analysis and so will refrain from engaging in such rhetoric. It is not intended to be seen as a discussion about who is suitable, politically speaking, to lift the country from decades of devastating adversity. This a legal argument about the moral values, not only of the 24 individuals who seek to lead the country, but also of the Somalis in general. President Trump’s Order has paved the way for this very important conversation to be had and it is high time that it happened.

The aspiring candidates face a serious challenge – to demonstrate their moral values! This would confirm their legitimacy! The job does indeed call for impressive educational qualification and employment experience. Running the country in terms of management and distribution of public resources; implementation of the rule of law; protecting it from the outside world; and advancing it for the better in every possible way demands one indispensable quality above all, and that is faith! The leader must have faith in the country and the country must have faith in him. He must have faith in a higher being than himself - Allah. This encourages such person to act morally - a quality that has not been displayed by any leader of Somalia for nearly three decades now.

As of 2016, the country is divided into six federal member states comprised of 1. Puntland; 2. Somaliland; 3. Jubaland; 4. Galmudug; 5. South West State; and 6. Hir-Shabelle.

These are not different to the Bantustans established by the South African government in 1962. It is not federalism as it is known in Switzerland or USA, for example. Cities and towns of Somalia traditionally inhabited by the minority clans are seized and made part of these six regions without any one them being ruled by their established inhabitants. This in itself makes the 4.5 system illogical, invalid, and unlawful! It is a construction which does not conform to Article 11 of the country’s constitution5.

Article 11

(1)    All citizens, regardless of sex, religion, social or economic status, political opinion, clan, disability occupation, birth or dialect shall have equal rights and duties before the law.

On the premise that the constitution, the most absolute legal authority in the country, is disregarded, it would be fair to conclude that none of the other laws are applied righteously. Minorities in Somalia are not just prevented from meaningful participation in public and political life, they are subjected to discrimination, injustice, and deprived of proper protection. Somalia’s constitution gives preference and priority to those who belong to the majority - this should never be and cannot be the criterion for holding public office.

Indeed the 4.5 system is contrary to the principle of equality contained in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights 1948. Article 1 of the Charter says that:

Article 1
All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood.

The majority tribes of Somalia have agreed not to behave in a spirit of brother towards their fellow minority clan Somalis.

Also, the 4.5 system violates the 1992 UN Declaration on the Rights of Persons Belonging to National or Ethnic, Religious and Linguistic Minorities, in particular articles one to four which read as follows:

Article 1

1.    States shall protect the existence and the national or ethnic, cultural, religious and linguistic identity of minorities within their respective territories and shall encourage conditions for the promotion of that identity.

 2.    States shall adopt appropriate legislative and other measures to achieve those ends.

Article 2

1.    Persons belonging to national or ethnic, religious and linguistic minorities (hereinafter referred to as persons belonging to minorities) have the right to enjoy their own culture, to profess and practise their own religion, and to use their own language, in private and in public, freely and without interference or any form of discrimination.

2.    Persons belonging to minorities have the right to participate effectively in cultural, religious, social, economic and public life.

3.    Persons belonging to minorities have the right to participate effectively in decisions on the national and, where appropriate, regional level concerning the minority to which they belong or the regions in which they live, in a manner not incompatible with national legislation.

4.    Persons belonging to minorities have the right to establish and maintain their own associations.

5.    Persons belonging to minorities have the right to establish and maintain, without any discrimination, free and peaceful contacts with other members of their group and with persons belonging to other minorities, as well as contacts across frontiers with citizens of other States to whom they are related by national or ethnic, religious or linguistic ties.

Article 4

2.    States shall take measures to create favourable conditions to enable persons belonging to minorities to express their characteristics and to develop their culture, language, religion, traditions and customs, except where specific practices are in violation of national law and contrary to international standards.

It is unambiguous, therefore, that the current power sharing system of governance is a relinquishment of responsibility by the State to ensure a legitimate system that does not discriminate. Surely, it is not hard to see that the term '0.5' breaches the rule of political correctness! An important factor in the way that the minorities in Somalia are treated must be reviewed and the right course of action to change this be implemented immediately upon the new president taking the helm.

Worryingly, however, there are 24 individuals who would readily, willingly, and happily take the realm and rule the country for four years with an inequitable administrative establishment in a country where the minorities lived together with the majority for centuries. Another four years of this unjust system is an extremely long time for the minority clans to continue to endure this prejudice. It would be wise and equitable for the incoming head of state to address the following pressing matters:

i.    Reform the current political system;

ii.    Remove the current occupiers of the towns and cities where the minority live and return these towns and cities to its people; and

iii.    Return the property which has been forcefully taken away from the minority clans.

Why should the next president, who will be from a majority tribe do this when he is likely to meet immense resistant? Well, he should remember the Qur’an in which Allah says to mankind:

وَلَنَبْلُوَنَّكُم بِشَيْءٍ مِّنَ الْخَوْفِ وَالْجُوعِ وَنَقْصٍ مِّنَ الْأَمْوَالِ وَالْأَنفُسِ وَالثَّمَرَاتِ ۗ وَبَشِّرِ الصَّابِرِينَ (155)6

وَيَرْزُقْهُ مِنْ حَيْثُ لَا يَحْتَسِبُ ۚ وَمَن يَتَوَكَّلْ عَلَى اللَّهِ فَهُوَ حَسْبُهُ ۚ إِنَّ اللَّهَ بَالِغُ أَمْرِهِ ۚ قَدْ جَعَلَ اللَّهُ لِكُلِّ شَيْءٍ قَدْرًا (3)7

وَالْعَصْرِ (1) إِنَّ الْإِنسَانَ لَفِي خُسْرٍ (2) إِلَّا الَّذِينَ آمَنُوا وَعَمِلُوا الصَّالِحَاتِ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالْحَقِّ وَتَوَاصَوْا بِالصَّبْرِ (3)8

And to remember the six pillars of Eiman.

أن تؤمن باللَّه وملائكته وكتبه ورسله واليوم الآخر؛ وتؤمن بالقدر خيره وشره9.

Besides what he is likely to endure when he meets his maker in the day of judgment, if he does not instantaneously implement the three obligations enumerated above, there is little doubt that President Trump will be the only diehard racist in the 21st century, but President Hebeloow will join him in the history books.

It is time, after 17 years, to combat the cruelty of the crowd confronting the misfortunate minority for a change in the cruel, shameful, divisive, and wrong political system and make the State adhere to its constitution and make the citizens of Somalia equal in every sense. 

For some reason, however, the silence of the minority clans of Somalia to actively seek to be left alone to rule their cities and towns appeared as an invitation to the present administration, which divided the country into regions, to take over the cities and towns and force their inhabitants out of their homes and businesses; and wipe out their history of over 1,000 years. Contravention of the UN Charter and UN Declaration permit the minorities to enforce their rights through the different procedures existing at the international level. Legal action is a possibility! To start with, the Somali minority clans could submit to the International Court of Justice (ICJ), via the UN General Assembly, for an advisory opinion on the validity of Somalia’s current discriminatory political system as a matter of international law.

Whoever happens to be the next president of Somalia, he must have strong moral values and not be scared of his tribe to demonstrate that he is a decent leader. He must be fair and free from fault and be a representative of all the people. He must accept that je suis PAS point five!


[1] Darood, Hawiye, Dir, and Digil and Mirifle

[2] Abdiqasim Salad Hassan (Ceer); Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed (Majarteen); Sharif Sheikh Ahmed (Abgaal); and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (Abgaal)

[3] Thomas M. Franck, The Power of Legitimacy Among Nations (OUP 1990)

[4] Most being of Yemeni or Omani origin

[5] Adopted 1 August 2012 in Mogadishu, Somalia

[6] Ayat 155 Surat Al Baqarah. The English translation is: “And We will surely test you with something of fear and hunger and a loss of wealth and lives and fruits, but give good tidings to the patient”.

[7] Ayat 3 Surat Al Talaaq. The English translation is: “And will provide for him from where he does not expect. And whoever relies upon Allah - then He is sufficient for him. Indeed, Allah will accomplish His purpose. Allah has already set for everything a [decreed] extent”.

[8] Surat Al Asr. The English translation is: “By time, Indeed, mankind is in loss, Except for those who have believed and done righteous deeds and advised each other to truth and advised each other to patience”.

[9] Belief in Allah; Belief in the angels; Belief in the revealed books; Belief in the commissioned Messengers (peace be upon them); Belief in the resurrection and the events of Qiyamah; and Belief in the predestination by Allah of all things, both the (seemingly) good and the (seemingly) bad. Five of these are mentioned in the Qur’an in Ayat 177 Surat Al Baqarah.

Click here