The election of Ambassador Mohamed Mursal Monday as Speaker of the Lower House unveils a new era of House leadership and importantly marks a milestone in bringing back the August House to business after months of protracted political circus.
Mursal takes over from veteran lawmaker Mohamed Jawari who now steps down to the chamber as an ordinary MP. Immediate for Mursal will be graciously bridging the fault-lines following a bitter dispute between factions in the House. He must move in without haste to heal the rift among lawmakers and shrug off the pro-PM Hassan Khaire tag which defined the pre-election campaign.
The Speaker of the House must remain a genuine arbiter in leading the legislative agenda and providing leadership in anchoring the Lower House within the building blocks of the state. As a law making organ of the state, the Lower House must transcend political expediency and actively endevour to actualize its primary goal-legislation.
A lot remains undone and must be done to keep pace with various milestones set for the country. The Executive tabled 11 bills in the first session of the 10th parliament which started last July. Only three- Anti-Corruption, Water and Communication bills have been disposed of. All the others, save for Health Bill which is in the committee stage have only gone through the first reading.
Besides the passage of bills, major milestones such as the constitutional review and implementation process and the road to 2020 require significant input from Parliament. The Constitutional Review and Implementation process has in the recent months suffered major setbacks thanks to push and pull between the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs on the one side and the Oversight Committee/Constitutional Review and Implementation on the other.
The new Speaker must provide firm leadership in ensuring the review process is not only completed in time but also be as inclusive as possible.
The relationship between the Lower House and the two other arms-Executive and Judiciary have at best been love hate and frosty. Besides the recent political dispute with the Executive, the move by the Lower House last year to rubbish a High Court verdict on election of five MPs strongly underscored the need for respect for and consistent fidelity to the Separation of Powers Doctrine and the dictates of the Constitution.
A peaceful, stable and cohesive Somalia should be at the heart of Ambassador Mohamed Mursal’s leadership choices as he takes the mantle of leadership at the Lower House.