Absenteeism in Parliament could ruin Parliament’s work

AFTER several times of grappling with quorum, the speaker of the parliament, Mohamed Omar Jawari seems to be running out of patience.

The numerous media reports on absenteeism in Parliament have not helped to increase the number of MPs present in the house; they have continuously fallen on deaf ears.

Speaker Jawaari in a bid to increase the house attendance, informed the house of members will face truancy punishment but MPs do not seem bothered at all.

“We have introduced a new way to take roll call in Parliament, members will now register with clerk, this system will also help detect the attendance of the members,” said Speaker.

“Some legislators are always absent but the parliamentary leadership is not informed yet the law requires written permission. We will simply implement the law as these clerks will help us to write down the names of the violators,” he added.
This snail pace performance of the Parliament is in same to its year back, in 2012, when it was formed as fourth parliament since Somali central government deposed, many were having in mind that it will be different from previous ones as it has the most educated MPs But now that enthusiasm seems to have evaporated.

“I have noted with concern the issue of attendance, many members of parliament do not attend and if they do, they leave before the plenary session is over and some come to Parliament only to remain in their offices,” lamented Jawari.

The Speaker has severally complained about members missing MPs and plenary sessions because it negatively affects the performance of the institution, he said. “In most of his communications to the House, the leadership has always called upon members to ensure that they attend the House.”

The speaker expressed his frustration for parliament could not discuss the bills due to lack of quorum, there are less than 200 MPs in the house out of the 275 MPs most of the times’. The bills may appear on the order paper for days and on every occasion; they could not be handled due to lack of quorum.

Months ago, Speaker warned that he would get to grips with the rampant truancy he blamed for delays in finishing House business.

Owing to absenteeism, the productivity of the House is low, Bills are not passed in time. Parliament has also been forced to debate backlog reports of 2015 that have been overtaken by events.

“It should be noted that no MPs who do not attend plenary have been forwarded to the disciplinary committee” the deputy said but that will on deaf ears.

Many members of Parliament blame speaker for failing to take action against absentees as that hinders the work of Parliament. “If an MP do not want to attend plenary, then we should continue without their presence for Parliament needs to handle issues on behalf of the nation and then appropriate measures should be taken against them” said an MP Abdiwahab.

In the professional constitution, MPs would lose their seats if found to have missed 2 successive sittings without the permission of the Speaker, but the words never worked.

Article 59(1) of the Constitution stipulates: “The office of a Member of Parliament becomes vacant — (d) if, during any session of Parliament, the member is absent from 2 consecutive sittings of the relevant House without permission, in writing, from the Speaker, and is unable to offer a satisfactory explanation for the absence to the relevant committee.”

Goobjoog News has learnt that Some MPs come to the House during motions, register their presence and disappear only to return the next one.

It is such MPs who have failed to notify the Speaker whenever they are not going to be in the House, leading to the persistent quorum hitches and general low attendance even when the quorum threshold is met.

By: Ahmed Mohamed Adan

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