My purpose in this article is to illustrate the balance of power or the collaborative relationship between the Federal Government (FG) and Federal Member States (FMS) of the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) on the basis of the Provisional Constitution (PC) adopted in August 2012 and in consideration of the international engagement. The concerns about the imperfections and ambiguity of the PC and about the wrangled formation of the FMS have been strenuously addressed in the past.  The framework established for settling the disputed and deferred constitutional issues rests on negotiations and agreements between the FG and FMS before parliamentary approval and popular referendum or Constituent Assembly.

Amid the process of constitutional review, the elected leaders have the moral responsibility of not making bad situation worse. Thus, the President of the FRS Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and the Prime Minister of the FG Hassan Kheire should be guided objectively and honestly by the imperfect and complex PC and by good governance principles. The formation of the Somali State is work in progress.

The oversight and accountability role of the Federal Parliament has been eliminated after forcing the resignation of Speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari and paving the way for the election of an ally Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman. Prime Minister Hassan Kheire has become the Inspector for accountability.

Now, the relation between the FG and FMS is in impasse after the Council of Inter-State Cooperation (CIC) of FMS accused President Farmajo and the FG of incompetence, broken promises, political interferences, misguided foreign policy, and other transgressions in their Kismaio Communiqué on September 8, 2018. The FMS asked dialogue with the President and the FG on condition that third party is present.

In reaction, the office of the President issued press release inviting the leaders of the FMS to meet with the President in Mogadishu with no third party presence. Prime Minister Hassan Kheire ruled out the presence or mediation of third party, particularly international partners. It is worth noting that the International Partners have Partnership Agreements with FG and FMS on politics, security, justice, economy, humanitarian, and social services.

The President and the FG remained silent about the serious charges made by the FMS and the mediation communication of the Upper House of the Federal Parliament for 48 days. On October 24, the CIC issued a self-reliance Communiqué at the end of 5 days meeting held in Garowe, Puntland. The Communiqué declared failure of FG.  

The FMS have been established to formally represent the interests of the populations of their States and share the responsibility of finalizing many deferred constitutional matters with the FG. For example, Article 3 (3) of the PC asserts “the Federal Republic of Somalia is founded upon the fundamental principle of power sharing in a federal system.” Furthermore, article 44 states, “the allocation of the natural resources of the FRS shall be negotiated by and agreed upon by the FG and the FMS in accordance with the Constitution.”

The fact that the PC requires formal agreements between FG and FMS on many outstanding constitutional issues tells in clear terms that FMS are not subordinate authorities to the FG. The creation of the National Leadership Forum in 2015 and the National Security Council in 2017 symbolizes the institutionalization of the shared responsibilities between the FG and FMS.

In all International Conferences held outside or inside Somalia, the FMS attended alongside the FG because they are considered stakeholders of the FRS.  International agreements and communiqués name separately the FG and FMS as responsible actors for the national commitments.

Some political activists are trying to frame mistakenly or dishonestly the dispute between the FG and the FMS as insubordination of the FMS to the supreme authority of the FG. In reality, the dispute highlights the fundamental principal of power-sharing, stakeholder, and balance of power between the FG and FMS in accordance with the PC. Sadly, the dispute has been worsened by the inflammatory languages and cartoons of the surrogates of the FG against the leaders of the FMS.

The 7 articles of Chapter 5 of the PC are all on the devolution of the powers of Somali State. Many other articles emphasize the collaborative relationship between the levels of government.  Explicitly, Article 51 commands the cooperative relationship between governments of the FRS, the respect and protection of the limits of every government’s powers, and the establishment of institutions and guidelines for the resolution of the disputes without restoring to court. Independent Inter-State Commissions and Constitutional Court are the internal mechanisms for resolving disputes between the FG and FMS and between FMS.

Article 52 allows the FMS to enter into collaborative agreement among themselvesAlsoArticles 114 and 120 permit the FMS to establish legislative, executive bodies, independent institutions like the Attorney General, the Auditor General, and the Federal Central Bank in accordance with their constitutions. Both articles reinforce the view that the FG lacks the power to oppose the establishment of security and intelligence forces in FMS.

Articles 53 and 54 of the PC are intertwined. Article 53 states, “In the spirit of inter-governmental cooperation the FG shall consult the FMS on negotiations relating to foreign aid, trade, treaties, or other major issues related to the international agreements; 2. Where negotiations particularly affect federal Member State interests, the negotiating delegation of the federal government shall be supplemented by representatives of the FMS.”

Article 54 cited frequently by the FG to defend its exclusive responsibilities on foreign affairs, national defense, citizenship and immigration, and monetary policy is restricted. The limitations of the article are self-evident when it is read with articles 50 on principles of federalism, 51 (3) on collaborative relationships between various levels of government, 53 on international negotiations, 114 on Independent Offices, 122 on principles of public finance, 126 (5) on the establishment of FMS police and intelligence forces to protect the peace and security of the local population.

The right path for the leaders of the FG is to focus, among other things, on Somaliland issue with great sensitivity and dexterity while completing the Constitution as early as possible, the harmonization of FG and FMS constitutions, the enactment of political party law and electoral law, all through democratic process and in order. Those efforts will greatly enhance the Somali politics and security.  

Dr. Mohamud Uluso