By T. Roble
GOOBJOOG NEWS|MOGADISHU: Just when the country breathed a sigh of relief following Jubbaland and Puntland’s acceptance to drop electoral preconditions seemingly ending a gruesome circus, President Mohamed Farmaajo muddied the waters again assenting into an unconstitutional decree expected to fuel another electoral crisis.
The signing of the unilateral resolution which purports to expand the Senate to 67 members by allocating Banaadir region 13 seats is the latest political spanner dispensed by Farmaajo with the net effect of creating more wrangles and extending his stay in office.
The resolution was passed by the Lower House where Farmaajo commands immense control last June following clamour for the representation of the people of Mogadishu in the Senate. The import of such a resolution would mean Banaadir region now gains the same status as the Federal Member States. There is no doubt that Banaadir which houses the country’s capital needs representation in parliament but the means to realise this goal is not a political tokenism.
The signing of the decree portends major consequences in the short and long term. In the immediate scenario, which Farmaajo is keen on, the resolution angers Jubbaland and Puntland both of which have opposed it from the word go. The two states had just climbed down hours ahead of the signing by dropping their pre-election conditions.
The resolution fails the legal and constitutional test. Changing the composition of the Federal Parliament demands a constitutional amendment which in this case never happened.
This should in effect open a fresh round of demands and counter-demands between the two states on the one side and Farmaajo hence extending his stay in office even way beyond February 8. Prior to signing the decree, the Ministry of Interior dismissed the Jubbaland and Puntland electoral committees as not meeting the standards contained in the September agreement. Farmaajo too has been widely accused of packing the Federal Indirect Elections Team (FIET) with cronies, senior civil servants and intelligence officials.
On a broader scale, the resolution fails the legal and constitutional test. Changing the composition of the Federal Parliament demands a constitutional amendment which in this case never happened.
Article 72 of the Provisional Constitution sets the number of Senators in Somalia at 54. This number, the law says shall be arrived at based on the18 regions existing before 1991 and the number of the Federal Member States of the Federal Republic of Somalia. The National Leadership Forum (NLF) led by then-president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud worked out this number in 2016 allocating Galmudug, HirShabelle, South West and Jubbaland eight seats each while Puntland and Somaliland, owing to their ‘seniority’ were each allocated 11 seats. This sealed the number of the Senators at 54.
A constitutional amendment within the current framework follows through due legislative processes as set out by the Provisional Constitutional and Standing Orders of the respective chambers. What Farmaajo signed today was a unilateral proposal by the Lower House.
In purporting to allocate Banaadir region 13 seats, Farmaajo is also seeking to define the Status of Mogadishu which too requires the input of the two houses of parliament in accordance with article 9 of the Provisional Constitution.
The article on ‘The capital City of the Nation’ reads thus: The capital city of the Federal Republic of Somalia is Mogadishu. The status of the capital city of Somalia shall be determined in the constitutional review process, and the two houses of the Somali Federal Parliament shall enact a special law with regards to this issue.
The President’s move is also likely to irk the international community particularly the UN whose envoy James Swan has been on a whirlwind tour of the Federal Member States pushing for an electoral deal. Swan successfully convinced Ahmed Madobe (Jubbaland) and his Puntland counterpart Abdullahi Deni to climb down on their demands resulting in the appointment their receptive electoral teams.
Goobjoog News has learnt that the international community which was closing in on a deal with the FMS leaders will be taken aback by Farmajo’s move and will hence pressure him to toe the line. Like the disgraced former American president Donald Trump, Farmaajo is bent running down the country at a rate which will require a lot more sacrifices to restore by a new administration.