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Jawari Must Confront Disaffected MPs
By Liban Ahmad
Saturday March 31, 2018

The deadlock over the motion against the Speaker of the Federal Parliament of Somalia has prompted Somalia's partners to voice their concern about fragility of the federal institutions. This parliamentary deadlock  is the second Somalis have experienced since 2010 when the current Southwest State President, Sharif Hassan, then Finance Minister, replaced   Adan Madoble, who had replaced Sharif Hassan when the latter  expressed support for the Union of Islamic Courts. Attempts to sack Sharif Hassan as Speaker failed in 2012.

Under the leadership of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud rift between the executive and legislature with did not occur. Power struggle pitted the President Mohamud against two  Prime Ministers, who lost parliamentary vote  and each was replaced by a new Prime Minister.

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The Federal Government of Somalia under President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohammed is credited with introducing stability in the executive branch of Somali federal institutions.

This approach empowers  the Prime Minister,  who only faces threats from MPs against his appointment as PM. An attempted Vote of No Confidence against Prime Minister Hassan Kheire failed last year because it had not been masterminded by the Presidency.

Prime Minister Kheire balanced his duties to govern with his concern  for Somalis in foreign jails. The Federal Government of Somalia facilitated the release of more  than  400 Somalis  from foreign jails  and captivity in Libya. This example about government performance is enough to render any motion against the government politically motivated.

The source of the rift between the Prime Minister and the Parliamentary Speaker partly lies in the parliamentary Financial Committee’s revocation of tax regime the Finance Ministry has introduced. The Committee sided with influential Mogadishu business community members, who object to  any tax to be levied on their businesses. It is not clear what laws the Finance Committee used to resort to an unprecedented move to strike down the initiative to increase the government's revenue base. The Speaker has not commented on the decision of the Parliamentary Finance Committee to sabotage the government. The Federal Parliament has turned a blind eye to agreements ratified by the cabinet but picks a fight with the executive branch of the government to undermine transparency-based  or revenue-boosting initiatives that previous  government  failed to adopt.

Somalis want a federal parliament that is neither a tool of  the federal government nor a means used by disaffected MPs to dissolve the government. 

The  fiscal federalism pioneered by the Finance Minister, Dr Abdirahman Beyle, and signed up to by federal member states has wider,  positive political implications: it will oblige federal member states to contribute to the federal government  coffers in addition to harmonising tax regimes. If tax collected in a locality x is used to build a school or a hospital in locality y, the federal government will leave a legacy on which the next administration can build. 

The Speaker of the Federal Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawari, accuses the government of sending troops to the parliament. The Speaker should avoid siding with the group, who accuses  President Mohammed of not honouring the agreement to appoint a Prime Minister  other than Kheire. Jawari needs all  help he can get to stand up to disaffected MPs who plotted to pit him against the executive branch of the government.

Liban Ahmad

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