by Dr. Mohamud Uluso
Thursday, February 25, 2021
The political and security situation of Somalia is ominous after former president Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo”, whose mandate ended 15 days ago (precisely February 8, 2021) ordered a midnight military assault against former presidents of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, and former parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adam, who were sleeping at Ma’ida Hotel near Daljirka Dahson monument where peaceful demonstration was to be held in the morning of Friday, February 19. The sound of heavy gunfire in the middle of the night woke up and terrified the entire Mogadishu population.
The former presidents and speaker survived but some of their security staff were killed and wounded. In the morning unarmed protestors, including presidential candidates Hassan Ali Kheire (former prime minister), Hussein Guled (former President of Galmudug state), Abdirahman Abdishakur (former minister of planning) were attacked with live bullets. They had to run for their lives. This was flagrant violations of articles 13 and 20 concerning right to life and freedom of assembly, demonstration, protest, and petition. The use of government forces against peaceful demonstrators has elevated the real risk for civil war, which could precipitate Al Shabab takeover of Mogadishu.
The Federal Government of Somalia (FGS)’s contention that the security forces protecting the protestors – opposition, politicians, demobilized security officials - represented a security threat is disingenuous and laughing because it’s well known that the FGS lacks the capacity and concern to protect its people from the deadly attacks of Al Shabab. The Somali citizens have the right to protect themselves. At the same time, the FGS failed its obligation to provide government paid security forces to the demobilized government officials vulnerable to the persecution of Al Shabab and other terrorist groups.
The peaceful demonstrators wanted to protest against the unconstitutional seizure of state power by the members of the federal parliament (MPs) and president Farmajo after the end of their constitutional mandates. Articles 60 (term of office of the members of the federal parliament), 91 (Term of Office of the president of the Federal Republic of Somalia), and 132 (provisions applicable to an amendment to the constitution proposed after the expiry of the first term of the federal parliament - which was 2016) establish the end of terms of both institutions. The outstanding question is, “Do Somali citizens have the freedom of article 20 or don’t have?” The FGS banned with force the exercise of that freedom, which eliminates the rationale for free and fair election.
For the continuity of government functions, article 103 stipulates that the Council of Ministers that existed on 27 November 2020 – the date marked the election date of MPs - is vested the authority to act as caretaker government with the capacity to carry out routine duties. The end of the mandates suspends the exercise of the responsibilities and powers of the Federal Parliament (FP) mentioned in the articles 61, 63, 69, 71 and of the President in article 90 and limits the working relationship between the FGS and the international partners solely on ongoing initiatives.
Therefore, the UN Security Council (UNSC) should not empower Mohamed Farmajo, former President of Somalia, who deliberately derailed in multiple corrupt ways the holding of free and fair elections on time. Some of the many corrupt ways former president Farmajo derailed the election process were the prolonged campaign to replace all presidents and members of the state parliaments with loyalists, the disabling of the FP, and the proposal of an electoral law that authorizes “direct popular presidential election” in violation of the article 89 (1) of the provisional constitution which establishes that the two houses of the Federal parliament (FP) – the House of the people (HPFP) and the Upper House (UPFP) - elect the president.
The facts mentioned above have revealed the devious intention of power grab of president Farmajo through rigged election or through protracted dispute over electoral model and implementation process. Opposition and regional state leaders have declared their firm decision of not working anymore with former president Farmajo who conducted fraud elections in Southwest, Galmudug, and Hirshabelle States. He publicly disowned the electoral agreement of 17 September 2020. It’s irrational to rely on regular and sustained dialogue with Farmajo.
The hollow trimestral reports of the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), Mr. James Swan have contributed to the buildup of the ominous political and security situation gripping Somalia and emboldened the autocratic and deceptive practices of president Farmajo. The reports omitted information that could have predicted the dire political and security situation in the country or included information that hided the deteriorating security and governance system. Indeed, the trimestral reports never addressed the crumbling of democratic governance, the dysfunction of the FP, the lack of financial accountability, the lack of implementation of all priorities promised during London Conference on Somalia on May 11, 2017, President Farmajo’s efforts to weaken the federal system, the bullying of Galmudug, Hirshabelle, and Southwest states by the federal government, and the unaccountable abusive National Intelligence Service Agency (NISA).
A recent independent assessment report on the security situation in Somalia commissioned by the UN Secretary General has exposed the sluggish progress made after 10 years of huge investments by the international partners. The intertwined causes that impeded tangible progress and identified by the report are the lack of coherent clear domestic political framework, and the lack of recognition of the interdependence between the effectiveness of governance (public administration) dimensions and the security dimension at all levels of the federal government, and finally the erosion of social contract that intensified social fragmentation. The hollow report freed the FGS from accountability and criticism for corruption, incompetence, and non-transparent decision making process.
As quick and clear as necessary, the international community must tell former president Farmajo that “February 8, 2021 matters and marks the end of his term in office and his authority to lead legitimately the Federal Republic of Somalia” and that “his midnight order to attack former presidents and fire peaceful protesters in broad day light is immoral and criminal acts subject to prosecution.” The preservation of the federal institutions depend on the restoration of calm, stability, and confidence before return to political dialogue. Fifteen (15) presidential candidates have suggested the establishment of new council to diffuse the flames of civil of war fueled by the schemes and divisive ploys of former president Farmajo to rig the elections.
One important constitutional breach overlooked for so long is the crisis that has paralyzed the functioning of the UPFP for almost two years after President Farmajo unashamedly and aggressively attacked, undermined, and marginalized the Speaker of the UHFP, H.E. Abdi Hashi as retaliation for rejecting to be among his diehard loyalists. There have been important laws approved only by the HPFP and signed by president Farmajo in violation of the articles 79 -86 of the provisional constitution.
The consideration of Articles 79—86 and 132 is also germane to reject the illegal claim that the FP approved the term extension for former President Farmajo and MPs on September 27, 2020 until new president and new FP are elected on an indefinite date. The amendment of the articles on “the tenure in office of the elected bodies” is restricted and must follow the process outlined under the articles 79-86 and 132 of the provisional constitution.
It’s absolutely hard if not irrational to believe that former president Farmajo who unapologetically defied the obligations of the constitution, refused to engage the FMS for 2 years without concern, ignored to speak publicly and honestly on any issue of national interest, will have the will and interest to have genuine dialogue with stakeholders to implement credible competitive free and fair elections. It is common knowledge that he engaged the FMS after the international partners cajoled him to participate Dhusamareb FGS-FMS meetings on elections. However, as he said in public, his main goal for participating Dhusamareb meetings was to divide FMS leaders and to deepen the political stalemate. The guiding principle of President Farmajo and his allies is either to do what they want or to freeze the tasks at hand until they find a way of winning their way. In the last four years, former president Farmajo and his allies with the support of influential foreign powers have not been bound by any public accountability and ethics.
After the international community reacted with dismay and condemnation to the unlawful attacks on unarmed protestors, the FGS embarked on propaganda campaign to mislead the members of the UNSC and the international community at large for questionable complaints. On February 20, the FGS issued a press statement filled with lies, distortions, and blatant admission of unconstitutional wrongdoings. The statement accuses unnamed countries with unspecified wrongdoings. This is to create confusion and divert the attention of Somalis and international partners to bogus enemies. For example, the statement says that “the influence of external forces has remained an obstacle to finalizing the agreement to pay the way for the election,” which is far from the truth. President Said Abdullahi Deni of Puntland has dispelled all the lies and intrigues of former president Farmajo in well publicized and well received speech delivered on Sunday 21, 2021 in Garowe. It’s my fervent hope that the members of the UNSC and international community will read the transcript of the speech for way forward.
The FGS chose to embrace false nationalistic posture to attack and accuse neighboring countries and other countries of the international partners for disagreeing with former president Farmajo’s power grab strategy. In summary, Somalia cannot endure with demagoguery, deception, and division of society. It needs an end of former president Farmajo’s troubling megalomania and reset for reconciliation, harmony, renewed social contract, and democratic elections.
Dr. Mohamud Uluso