By Dr. Mohamud Uluso
The Somali people have been hoping to heal from the painful experience suffered in ousting the military dictatorship that ruled the country for 21 years with an iron fist. Extrajudicial killings, widespread abuse of power, and economic deprivation shattered the safety, security, freedoms, and the living standards of the majority of the Somali people, triggering public rebellion, collapse of the Somali State, and civil war. The experience left an indelible pain in the memory of the Somali people. Therefore, the democratically elected officials were expected not to replicate the malpractices of the ousted dictatorship regime that destroyed the identity and solidarity of the Somali people. The 2012 Provisional Constitution (PC) lays down the new path for democratic system of self-governance.
Unfortunately, despite his preposterous claim of being lifelong believer in the values of democracy made in a piece published in the Foreign Policy Magazine, the unlawful resident in Villa Somalia, the Presidential palace of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, best known “Farmajo” has thrown the democratic constitution in the dustbin and brazenly embarked on power consolidation and reestablishment of cult of personality. Farmajo didn’t hide his fascination with Sultanism (one man rule), demagogy, and the establishment of notorious special security forces to intimidate, silence, and oppress the people. Government positions are offered in exchange for personal loyalty.
The day candidate Farmajo was elected and sworn in as president of the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) on February 8, 2017, the House of the People (HoP) of the federal parliament (FP) passed the resolution number GSH/B-10/003/17, which confirmed the legitimacy of the results of the presidential election. Article 2 of the resolution specifies the beginning and ending dates of the four year term of the elected president marked on February 8, 2017 and February 7, 2021 respectively.
Article 91 of the PC establishes the four year tenure of the federal president while the parliamentary resolution specified legally the start and end dates of the term. The resolution has been published in the official Bulletin of the FRS for compliance.
The specific purpose of the parliamentary resolution was to remind the elected president that his constitutional duties spelled out under article 90 and his oath of office under article 96 of the PC will come to an end on February 7, 2021. There is no allusion for term extension deducible from any part of the constitution.
To the contrary, to preempt election delay or extended stay in power, the constitution prescribes series of measures to be implemented before the term ends. Indeed, Articles 67 and 90 (O) require the president to dissolve the FP when the latter’s term expires and to declare article 103 operational to designate the incumbent Cabinet (Council of Ministers) as a caretaker Cabinet from the date of dissolution of the FP to the date of swearing in a new Cabinet approved by a new parliament. The dissolution terminates the prerogatives of the members of the FP (MPs). The Caretaker government will lack the legitimacy to carry out activities other than the routine duties – everyday usual duties. Non routine decisions are null and void.
After issuing those decrees, the president ceases to exercise his presidential powers. He focuses on his reelection or election of his successor. Unambiguously the constitution prohibits stay in office of both the president and MPs beyond their constitutional terms. Exercise of illegitimate powers is crime.
Therefore, Farmajo’s argument that “the current elected officials [members of parliament and the president] have to remain in office until they are reelected or replaced through the electoral process” has no legal basis. The invoked parliamentary resolution is unconstitutional and rejected by more than 10,000 (ten thousand) voters and senators of FMS in accordance with article 86 of the PC. Challenged law is suspended until Constitutional Court decides. In the absence of Constitutional Court, the law remains suspended.
Farmajo’s argument legitimizes indefinite stay in power, blaming rivals for obstruction and delay of election. He either ignores or fails to understand that the federal government is responsible to deliver an acceptable election process. The opposition has the right to oppose unfair election law or accord.
Article 46, concerning the power of the people, describes the basic principles that should guide the design of people’s representation through democratic election process. It establishes that the power of self-governance rests with the Somali people, which means that elected officials are accountable to the people, a fundamental principle that has been discarded in the last four years. It also requires that the people’s representation should be open, meaning that all citizens must have the opportunity to participate without obstacles.
Two more conditions. The procedures and rules for public participation in the political process must be simple and understandable and the election system must prevent any crises that may arise as a result of political contests and disputed results. The article lays down the yardsticks for free and fair elections.
With regard to the “direct election system – one person one vote (OPOV),” the constitution provide a blueprint. Explicitly, schedule one (C) lists the articles that require amendments to the constitution. One of those articles is article 47 “on political parties and electoral system.”
Schedule One (C) stipulates that the FP enacts constitutional amendment and electoral law after completing a process that includes “an agreement between the federal government and the FMS,” and the steps highlighted under articles 132, 133, and 134. This exercise requires faithful respect of the constitution, extensive cooperation between the two levels of the federal government to build political consensus prior to legislative actions, and the professional recommendations of the Independent Provisional Constitution Review and Implementation Commission (IPCRIC) serving the Provisional Constitution Review and Implementation Oversight Parliamentary Committee (PCRIOPC).
The elected officials bear the responsibility of fulfilling those obligations expeditiously and effectively. The opposition scrutinizes the performance of the elected officials for flaws and unfairness. Unfortunately, Farmajo has never strived to make sure that the federal institutions adhere to the fundamental principles of the PC for the preparation of direct or indirect election system. He made the FP ineffectual. Only 140 MPs of HoP out of 329 MPs of HoP and UP of the FP decide the legislative matters of the Somali nation. The UP of the FP has been marginalized for good.
The law number 23 on direct federal election passed on February 20, 2020 doesn’t meet the principles laid down in the constitution. It institutionalizes the 4.5 clan power sharing and it’s an impractical electoral law. It’s far from the truth that it promotes universal suffrage as claimed by Farmajo and his supporters.
The disagreement between Farmajo and his opponents derives from the fact that Farmajo has openly and persistently pursued the goal of staying in power either through unlawful term extension as he orchestrated on April 12, 2021 or through sham elections as he did in Southwest, Galmudug, and Hirshabelle States in 2018-2020 or through political chaos. His recently published piece in FP magazine reveals his disconcerting views on the rule of law.
The former Prime Minister (PM) Hassan Ali Kheire disagreed publically with President Farmajo in 2020 on OPOV election. Subsequently, the Presidents of the FMS met in Dhusamareb, capital of Galmudug state and rejected the OPOV election for the absence of all necessary conditions. Those decisions didn’t end Farmajo’s insistence on OPOV argument and bolster the indirect election consensus. Instead, they precipitated the dismissal of the PM Kheire in 7 minutes just three months before the beginning of the election calendar and the ensuing chaos goes on for almost one year. Paradoxically, Farmajo continues to smear the indirect election that put him in power in 2017.
Farmajo’s baseless claim for presidential powers after his term expired hastens the demise of the fragile Federal Republic of Somalia. Thus, his quick departure from Villa Somalia is absolutely critical to avert the potential disaster of state disintegration.
Dr. Mohamud Uluso