by Mohamed Yarow
Since the federal system was officially inaugurated in Somalia in 2012 when Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud was elected as the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia, much focus has been put on inclusive politics and governance structure that ensures a participation and representation of all the people of Somalia on clan basis, which also set aside a quota of 30 percent for women in Somalia.
The objective of inclusive politics was to bring together the Somali people who were divided along tribal and clan lines in decades of devastating civil war in a unity government and heal the wounds of the effects of the war so that the country could be reconciled and stand on its feet again back on the international stages.
The Somali politicians, intellectuals, elders and scholars had begun these inclusive efforts long before the establishment of the official federal system in Somalia in 2012 in painstaking peace and reconciliation conference supported by the international community which were held in Arta of Djibouti in 2000 establishing the first Transitional National Government of Somalia led by President Abdi Qasim Salad Hassan after the collapse of the military regime of Siad Barre in 1991. Delegates in this conference concluded that the solution to Somalia’s problems was a participation and representation of all clans in a governance structure of a power-sharing system that gives a chance of a representation to every Somali clan. The 4.5 power-sharing system which Somalia still uses today though it should have been replaced by a universal suffrage elections in 2021 but failed was born out of this conference and the Somali clans have shared power on agreed numbers of clan representatives in successive governance structures since.
Many Somali citizens considered the 4.5 power-sharing method as a solution out of the political conflict but did not ensure a participation and representation of all the clans in the governance structure on just and equal terms. It has been two decades since the system has been in use and over these years, inclusivity and representation of all the clans in the successive governments of Somalia was comprised, and many clans who were not happy with the system at the onset continued to be underrepresented as opposed to the size of their population or excluded from full participation. Initially, the agreed 4.5 power-sharing system focused more on which clan had the more arms, economic power and controlled large swathes of territories in Somalia at the time of the Arta Conference.
The imbalance of the power share based on the aforementioned points led few clans, many of less-sized populations, to take advantage of the governance systems, have more voices and benefit from the national social and economic opportunities. Other clans underrepresented in the successive transitional and federal government structures many of which had bigger sizes of populations were disadvantaged because they were not armed, did not have the economic power nor controlled territories.
All Somali clans’ participation in inclusive governance
Theoretically thinking, all Somali clans are said to have been represented in the successive government systems which Somalia has established since the 2000 Transitional National Government formed in Arta of Djibouti headed by former President Abdi Qasim Salad Hassan.
Based on the 4.5 power-sharing to end Somalia’s civil war in the late 1990s, the so-called four big clans and the coalition of small clans thereon referred as ‘Others’ (though members of the latter group dispute the minority claim), every Somali clan and sub-clan is portrayed to have a political representation in the subsequent government systems of Somalia since 2000.
However, inclusive politics and full representation of all clans in government systems has never been near a realization in Somalia.
The Somali social fabrique is composed of social structures that make up many clans of different tribes inhibiting in different parts of the country. Within these clans are sub-clans and lineages that would otherwise be represented in inclusive politics and governance structures of Somalia.
The problem is that a few political elites of each clan capture the power and impose a forced representation of others within the clan that brings about discontent and continuous conflicts.
The conflicts in many parts of the Federal Member States of Somalia today are the result of discontent and disappointment by some of the clans who feel that they were underrepresented or left out in the power share as is the case with HirShabelle State where one of the bigger clans expressed dissatisfaction with the result of the last regional elections and the power-sharing method and took up arms.
In communities such as those in Southwest State of Somalia (SWSS) who fall in the same clan but with different social groups, one social group may represent the other in governance but deny the latter their right to participation and inclusivity into the political government system.
The 4.5 power-sharing is just nothing but a mere system that benefits some clans and disadvantages others because the former have the military, economic power and access to the governance and political opportunities.
It is therefore concluded that not all Somali clans have ever fully been represented or participated in an inclusive political system that Somalia has had since 2000.
Inclusive politics, the solution to Somalia’s continued political mayhem
Inclusive politics that brings on board every clan and assures it a participation and representation in the government systems or structures is the solution to Somalia’s continued political mayhem and unrest.
As Somalia is set to embrace indirect elections in the coming months following the final agreement reached by the Federal Government of Somalia, the Federal Member States and Banadir Regional Administration, and welcomed by the other political stakeholders and the civil society after long political impasse and deadlocks, the Federal Government of Somalia in close collaboration with the federal member states and other Somali political stakeholders should ensure that the Somali people are well represented and participate in the efforts to set up an inclusive governance structure which replaces the outgoing government.
The Somali people at grass-roots should be allowed to express their political opinions and freedom of association so that everyone exercises their right to choose who they want to elect and represent them in both the Lower and Upper Houses of the Federal Parliament.
Consultations that are made with the communities at the grassroots-level concerning the upcoming indirect elections ensure full participation and representation of the people in an inclusive government system.
The Federal Electoral Independent Team (FEIT) should empower those whose voices are not heard and fight corruptive and fraudulent means to rig the votes in a transparent and accountable way.
Inclusive politics is the only way to end the political mayhem and turmoil that has plagued Somalia since its peace and reconciliation efforts in Arta of Djibouti 2000 and ensure full participation and representation of the Somali people in an all-inclusive, well-established governance structure.
Mohamed Yarow,
Political Analyst
BA in Development Studies
Bachelor of Public Administration (BPA)