Impeachment caucus: Speaker has usurped court powers, betrayed dialogue

PRO-IMPEACHMENT lawmakers have accused the Federal Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawaari of dishonesty and breach of law for what they term as illegal ruling regarding the status of the impeachment motion against the president.

In a strongly worded statement this evening, the lawmakers expressed their ‘shock and dismay’ over the speaker’s ruling yesterday to dismiss the motion on legal grounds, a move the lawmakers read as aimed at protecting the interests of the president and acceding to pressure from the international community.

“Even if Your interpretation of the law is correct, the Constitution does not provide you with any powers of the determination of the validity of the legal grounds of an impeachment.” caucus

On Saturday, Jawaari said the motion lacked legal merit with reference to acts of treason contemplated in Article 184 of the Penal Code and went ahead to call for a dialogue among MPs, the president and the prime minister early next month.

Legal authority

However, the MPs today rubbished the speaker’s decision citing a number of concerns regarding the issue. First, the lawmakers said the Speaker does not have the legal authority to determine the legality of a motion of impeachment noting that such rested with the courts.

“Even if Your interpretation of the law is correct, the Constitution does not provide you with any powers of the determination of the validity of the legal grounds of an impeachment; That power, Your Excellency, is solely reserved for the competent courts, and unfortunately, you have arrogated to yourself powers not assigned to you under the provisional constitution,” the MPs said.

Secondly, they said Article 92 of the constitution does not mention treason as the only ground for impeachment but also gross violation of the constitution by the president and that they never relied on Article 184 of the Penal Code as asserted by the Speaker.

“To start with, we never cited Article 184 of Somalia’s Penalty Code in our impeachment motion. Instead, we must advise Your Excellency that the motion is anchored on Article 92 of the Constitution, and this Article does not cite treason as the only grounds for impeachment but also cites constitutional transgressions and breach of other national laws,” read the statement in part.

Dishonesty

The lawmakers further accused the speaker of dishonesty and going against agreements and his earlier directions regarding the motion. With annexes of correspondence between the speaker’s office and the pro-impeachment caucus, the MPs said the speaker’s note dismissing the motion yesterday was riddled with suspicions and portends risks to the status and reputation of parliament.

The Speaker issued a press statement on 12th of this month calling on the impeachment caucus and the office of the president to enter into discussions to find an amicable solution on the impeachment in two weeks, failure to which the motion would be submitted to the courts for further direction.

The caucus on its part said they agreed to the talks on exception that the Prime Minister would assume an observer position but not act on behalf of the president as stated by the speaker.

In what is likely to bring into question the office of the speaker, the lawmakers make reference to correspondence some of which cite the speaker’s u-turn on his earlier view of the motion. In it, the lawmakers said the Speaker had indicated no objection to the motion but that his only concern was the complexities in constituting a competent court.

“This letter of Your Excellency’s, which was widely distributed publicly and widely never casted any iota of a doubt on the legal grounds of the impeachment motion, but only raised concerns regarding how to best stand up and complete the court, a concern you ultimately found a sound remedy,” the lawmakers observed.

Procedural abuse

The MPs also refer to the speaker’s request September 17th, 2015 to them to file their legal brief containing allegations, options on presenting evidentiary material, possible remedies and expected outcomes. This, the MPs said they fulfilled.

The MPs have also pointed to procedural failures in parliament noting that the Rules of Procedure of the Parliament do not permit signatories of House motions to change their minds before the motion is put to a vote inside the House. In his memorandum yesterday, the Speaker hinged his argument on what he said decisions by pro-impeachment MPs to drop their bid to impeach the president.

In response to the dialogue meeting slated for early October, the MPs dismissed it as a curious strategy and that it would no longer be an option because of the speaker’s ‘egregious, unilateral and capricious decision’.

The caucus has called on the speaker to reverse his decision indicating that the decision portended profound legal, constitutional and political ramifications which may consequently have grave impact on the place of Rule of Law in Somalia and the efficacy of Constitutionalism, impunity and the very viability of governance of the Somali state.

 

 

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