Regional state presidents Wednesday sought to firm their bargaining power with the Federal Government announcing the formation of a Council of Presidents headed by Puntland president Abdiweli Gaas and deputised by HirShabelle’s Mohamed Waare.
The leaders who have been meeting in Jubbaland capital Kismayu for the last four days pitched for more share from the federal government which they said was marginal despite 90% of the country being under their administration.
Citing various articles of the Provisional Constitution, the leaders took their fight to Mogadishu accusing the Federal leadership of unilateral decisions, lack of consultation and concerted efforts at derailing the federalism agenda in the country.
In what could be a jab at the Federal Government over its insistence of absolute powers on foreign affairs in relation to Gulf Crisis, the leaders sought the import of article 53 of the Provision noting that even in cases where a matter falls within the scope of the Federal Government, the article provided for consultation with federal member states.
“The Council is stressing the importance of article 53 of the Provisional Constitution which calls for consultation with federal states on matters which have direct impact on the federal states,” a communique released Wednesday read in part.
Article 53 (1) reads thus: In the spirit of inter-governmental cooperation the Federal Government shall consult the Federal Member States on negotiations relating to foreign aid, trade, treaties, or other major issues related to international agreement.
The Federal Government has fervently maintained it will not budge over its neutral stand in the Gulf feud citing exclusive powers inherent in article 54 of the Provisional Constitution which apart from foreign affairs adds monetary policy, citizenship and immigration and defence.
In no uncertain terms, the leaders called on the federal government to keep off the affairs of Galmudug noting the stability of the central Somalia state was paramount. Galmudug president Ahmed Haaf whose stay in power hang in the balance a fortnight ago seems to have received a new lease of life as the leaders firmly stood with him.
On the constitutional review process, the regional presidents who declared earlier in the week to boycott the constitutional convention organized by the Ministry of Constitutional lashed out at the federal government accusing it of schemes to frustrate the process. “We doubt the plans and sincerity of the government on the constitutional review process. The manner in which the Ministry of Constitutional Affairs planned a convention in Mogadishu is testament to its plan to hijack the process.”
As a measure, the leaders called for the creation of a de facto commission to address the underlying issues between the federal and regional governments ahead of the formation of the Inter-State Commission as contemplated by article 111 (F) of the Provisional Constitution.
They also called for the suspension of all constitutional review activities by the Ministry of the Constitutional Affairs until a way forward is established. Constitutional Affairs Minister Abdi Hosh Wednesday said he regretted the cancellation of the convention but hoped issues raised would be resolved soon to resume the process.