Somalia’s Unscientific Federalism. by Aman H.D. Obsiye
by Aman H.D. Obsiye
Sunday, February 24, 2013
Somalia has chosen Federalism as its official governing structure, but its current foundation is weak. The constitution states: “Somalia is a federal, sovereign, and democratic republic . . . .” Provisional Fed. Const. June 12, 2012, art. 1, §1 (Som.). Even though many Somalis are skeptical of federalism, it is vital to resurrecting the Somali nation. Federalism’s “vertical separation of powers” disseminates governing powers between two main entities, the national government and the state governments. Federalism espouses the belief of ‘dual-sovereignty,’ and each entity may not encroach upon the other entity’s governing powers.
II. Unscientific Federalism
When one looks at neighboring Ethiopia and its federal structure, you can easily see the scientific foundation. Ethiopia bases its federalism on linguistic/ethnic states (hence, Linguistic Federalism and/or Ethnic Federalism). Unlike multi-ethnic/multi-religious Ethiopia, Somalia is ethnically, religiously, culturally, and linguistically homogenous. A plausible scientific foundation for Somalia’s federal structure is tribes (Tribal Federalism). But, tribal federalism will obviously reignite the Somali Civil War (1991-2006). When doctors treat cancer patients they do not inject more cancerous cells in the patients, but rather, they remove the already existing cancerous cells. Tribalism is Somalia’s cancer, and it would be foolish to inject the national body with more cancerous cells. So what should Somalia’s federalism be based on? It should be based on either the 1960 or 1991 provinces. This is the most logical scientific foundation for Somalia’s federal structure.
The first Somali regime, the Somali Republic, was born in 1960 and its administrative regions were twelve in total. They were inherited from the colonial powers, British Somaliland & Somalia Italiana, and the administrative regions were: Baidoa, Beled Weyne, Berbera, Borama, Boosaaso, Burao, Erigavo, Galka’yo, Hargeisa, Jamame, Las Anod, and Mogadishu.
When the second Somali regime, the Somali Democratic Republic, fell in 1991 its administrative regions were eighteen in total. The provinces were: Awdal, Bakool, Benadir, Bari, Bay, Galguduud, Gedo, Hiiraan, Jubbada Dhexe, Jubbada Hoose, Mudug, Nugaal, Sanaag, Shabeellaha Dhexe, Shabeellaha Hoose, Sool, Togdheer, and Woqooyi Galbeed.
Somali Federalism must be based on authentic administrative regions either at the birth of the Somali nation, 1960 provinces, or at the death of the Somali nation, 1991 provinces. This solution is practical and gives a more scientific approach to federalizing the Somali nation. Also, the region 1960/1991 regions are undisputedly recognized by the Somali person, which gives more credibility to the federal process.
III. Corrective Measures to Solidify Somali Federalism
Somalia’s Provisional Constitution currently states: “Based on a voluntary decision, two or more regions may merge to form a Federal Member State.” Provisional Fed. Const. June 12, 2012, art. 49, §6 (Som.). This article should be amended to allow: “one or more adjacent regions to form a Federal Member State.”
One of the main tasks the Provisional Federal Government (PFG) must complete before its current tenure is up (2016) is to federalize the entire Somali nation. Having two regions as its minimum number to form a Federal Member State slows down the federal process, and presents two major problems.
The first problem is the unconstitutionality of the Galmudug State of Somalia, which is a key signatory of the Garowe Principles. The Garowe Principles paved the way for the end of Somalia’s transitional period and gave birth to the present Provisional Federal Government. The Garowe II Principles states that “We . . . recognize the Galmudug State as a state within the federation . . . .” The Galmudug State encompasses the entire Galguduud province and half of the Mudug province. In essence, the Galmudug State bases its federal state on one and half provinces but this violates the current “two regions or more” criteria. The Somali government must take the corrective measure of changing the criteria to “one or more adjacent regions to form a Federal Member State,” so the Galmudug State can constitutionally be a Federal Member State.
The second problem, although unlikely to arise, relates to the “adjacent” aspect of the corrective measure. Currently two regions that are not adjacently connected may constitutionally merge to form a Federal Member State. A northern province (e.g. Awdal) may merge with a southern province (e.g. Hiiraan) to form a Federal Member State, even though the distance between the two regions is enormous. The problems of political and socioeconomic inefficiency and ineffectiveness are obvious, albeit still constitutional under the current Provisional Federal Constitution.
Allowing “one or more adjacent regions to form a Federal Member State,” is the corrective measure to solidify Somali Federalism.
The third Somali regime is slowly emerging, and the social contract that has been chosen by the People and Government, is federalism. By adapting the corrective measure to solidify Somali Federalism, more Federal Member States shall emerge. It is imperative that the PFG enhances its national legitimacy by increasing members in the Somali federation.
Currently the Puntland State of Somalia is the only constitutional Federal Member State. The corrective measure allows for Galmudug State to constitutionally join the Somali federation. Puntland and Galmudug, along with the pending Jubaland State, will give the third Somali regime stronger national legitimacy.
Also, the corrective measure allows for the peaceful and stable Benadir province, where Mogadishu is located, to become a Federal Member State. This will greatly enhance the national foundation for the Somali federation.
The PFG must facilitate the federal process and immediately increase its Federal Member States so it may fulfill its federalist social contract.
Aman H.D. Obsiye is a law student at the University of Minnesota. He serves as the Executive Director of the Institute of Somali Affairs (somaliaffairs.org). Twitter: @somalistyle
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