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How to tame Somalia's political conflicts?
By Mohamed Ahmed Afrah
Friday May 18, 2018
This article attempts to answer what seems to be an old age question; How to tame Somalia's political conflicts? By exploring two themes. 1- Establishing constitutional order. 2- Ending the disastrous 4.5 system? But first a brief background on the recent political conflict and small tribute to one of its victims.
The latest episode of Somalia’s long running show of political conflict has luckily come to an end with the resignation of Speaker Jawari who on the course though forced by extreme political pressure from the administration set an exemplary precedent to follow for the so called politicians in Somalia by forsaking his personal interest to the good of Somalia’s national interest.
The genesis of the latest political conflict had its roots in a struggle for power between two colossal political figures in Somalia (Jawari vs. Kheyre) one is the head of government business and the other was speaker of Parliament a showdown which seemed to suggest a conflict between two branches of government (Executive vs. Legislature) although the deafening silence from key political figures in the executive branch namely the president who broke his silence late afterwards in order to avert a possible political disaster to only call for the resignation of Speaker Jawari and the active participation of senior government ministers in the process of the motion of no confidence against Speaker Jawari gave credence to this notion.
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The recent political conflict in Somalia resembles somewhat like a movie to be exact a role reversal, previous political squabbles usually involved members of the executive branch (President vs. Prime minister) with the chambers of Parliament acting as venue in which the fate of either was decided usually the destiny of the prime minister.
Various accounts suggest the now defunct impeachment motion against former speaker Jawari started last October by section of MPs who became dissatisfied about the make-up of various parliamentary committees, gained a bit of momentum during the recent recess of Parliament and was blown out proportion by the recent political conflict between speaker Jawari and Prime Minister Kheyre.
Speaker Jawari has managed to achieve longevity In Somalia's politics a rare feat considering the high turnover rate in Somalia's politics a testament to his incredible qualities considered by many as one of the best legal minds Somalia has to offer today, serving his second term as speaker (now former) of Parliament Mr. Jawari has earned plaudits, respect and admiration for his work just as he received all this worthy recognition he has also managed to create enemies along the way, accused of aiding and abetting the previous administration's unlawful and unconstitutional removal of prime ministers one casing example being prime minister Shirdon who was denied the right to be heard and defend himself by speaker Jawari, in what looks like a reversal of fortune speaker Jawari has somehow tested the same fate.
Sadly political conflicts has become a permanent fixture in Somalia’s politics a times pitting against members of Somalia’s political establishment such as federal member states against the central government, prime minters vs. president, during such incidents attention is usually diverted away from important issues such as security to politics and basically government activities comes into paralysis, before the next episode of Somalia's show of political squabble airs the following are ought to be done in order to tame Somalia's wild political conflicts.
Establishing a constitutional order
The state of Somalia has been without supreme document that governs it's affairs (people, territory and government) for nearly fifty years now, the last constitutional order that existed in Somalia only lasted little over or under nine years, the nascent order was abruptly ended by the authoritarian government of Siad Barre soon after it came to power through illegal military coup, from there onwards things went down the hill impunity, abuse of power and gross violation of human rights became order of the day.
The process of constitution making in Somalia started about fourteen years ago since then little realization has been made in finishing the task; various administrations have attempted to push the process forward but got distracted by several issues such as political conflicts, their combined effort has only managed to achieve a meager status for the constitution (provisional), today the process is in total disarray and this largely due to the political frictions between the minister for constitutional affairs and MPs tasked overseeing the process.
Most political conflicts in Somalia centers around power which is unfortunately not clearly defined in the current provisional constitution of Somalia, specifically the distribution and separation of power among different levels of government, regional (federal state) and central government, greedy politicians have taken advantage over the vagueness and lack specificity of the constitution by advancing their personal political ambitions in the process impeding the creation of constitutional order in Somalia, since their selfish interest are realized in the current order of confusion.
The best lesson that could be drawn from the recent political conflict in Somalia is that total separation of power between the executive and legislature constitutionally is Paramount, currently members of Parliament (MPs) can serve as cabinet ministers, going forward they should be constitutionally barred from doing so in order MPs concentrate on their legislative responsibility and in the process avoid being at the center of political conflict, the recent political turmoil in Somalia which culminated in the resignation of speaker Jawari exactly showcased why this is so essential, key proponents of the motion were MPs serving as cabinet ministers, many alleging their cabinet position was under threat in case they did not endorse the motion.
Constitutionally raising the threshold for motion would be a game changer in Somalia's politics, currently motion legislation by Somalia's Parliament has become a business tool which holds administrations hostage for ransom which in the process risk derailing efforts of stabilizing the country betraying the original essence which is being an accountability tool which holds government transgressions into account, political agitators flagrantly disregard the current provisional constitution with many attributing this to the legitimacy deficit of constitution (lacks the backing of the general population), nevertheless motion legislation must constitutionally be raised to meet three critical benchmarks; 1- abuse of power 2-incompetency 3- National interest.
The best way to safeguard any constitutional order is to have an independent judiciary, today Somalia lacks a fully functioning judiciary system making it the only arm of government which is not in operation, the primary responsibility of the judiciary organ of government is interpret and apply the law, establishing a robust justice system can provide a venue in which political conflicts can be solved for instance constitutional courts can interpret contentious sections of the constitution and also determine the legality of some of these baseless motions.
Ending the disastrous 4.5 system
Clan based politics has been the order on which Somalia's political system has been based on for the past two decades only resulting more polarization among different clans and exacerbating political conflicts, this was deliberately crafted by greedy politicians in order to maintain clan supremacy and basically discriminate other so called lesser clans, fortunately this disastrous idea has been a failure from the get-go.
Tribal based politics has provided a loophole to political agitators to take advantage of unfortunately the king makers in Somali politics are not the people rather clan elders who are usually out touch with real people, so to influence politicians negative political forces lobby and buy loyalty of clan elders who have some degree of control over average Somali politicians who are not backed by foreign actors, hence their bought support is used to fuel or start political conflicts.
The current political order (clan based) enables political conflicts to take place this largely due to the fact that clan interest supersedes the national interest, negative political actors have understood this naked truth and used to their benefit by satisfying the interest of clans and in return execute their devilish political strategy even if it’s at expense of the country.
The disastrous system has also given a platform to people with tainted history who are notoriously known for all sorts of negative things (war criminals and human right abusers), unfortunately in the eyes of their clans they considered heroes and to the rest they are criminals, no wonder then why Somalia experiences constant political conflicts because members of the political establishment use to be involved in actual deadly political conflicts in which innocent lives were lost, luckily in the recent political squabbles they have not been as deadly but have been consequential, a practical solution would be the deconstruction of tribe or clan from Somalia's politics all together.
Somalia faces myriad of challenges such as diminishing sovereignty, transgressions on its territorial integrity & political independence from foreign actors, extremism from Al Shabab, emergence of negative political force and sluggish economy, the last thing the country needs is unnecessary manufactured political crisis that seriously threatens to derail little strides that has been made over the years, time has come for Somalia's political establishment to show a sense of political maturity.
MOHAMED AHMED AFRAH
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