Mogadishu — The continuing controversies and questions surrounding the formation of Somalia’s Central State highlight the pitfalls of state-building and the need to fast track the creation of a Boundaries and Federation Commission, political analysts and stakeholders say.
The approval in July of the formation of the Central State, a successor to the Galmudug regional administration comprising Galgadud and Mudug regions, and the subsequent political stalemate between the federal government and the Puntland administration threatened to derail the federalism process.
Last week, that stalemate came to an end with the reconciliation talks between the two sides and a 12-point agreement paving the way for reviewing and implementing the provisional federal constitution, forming an inclusive military force and holding elections in 2016, among other provisions.
However, the main point of the reconciliation talks — to facilitate an agreement on the formation of the Central State — has only generated more strife as the two sides backtracked on their original positions by breaking Mudug region into two.
According to the agreement, the two parties decided that the Central State will comprise southern Mudug and Galgudud regions, while northern Mudug will remain an integral part of Puntland state.
Immediately after the agreement was announced, representatives from Galmudug and Himan and Heeb regional administrations and Ahlu Sunna wal Jamaa (ASWJ) took issue with it, arguing that the federal constitution has the authority to establish and define state borders, not politicians.
Abdikarim Daud, a political science professor at Mogadishu University, said the government should have corrected the previous mistake before forging ahead and signing another agreement that contradicts the first one.
“From the beginning it was hasty to announce the unification of the two regions without appropriate consultations with the residents of the regions because the people from Puntland who live in Mudug had the right to decide whom they would join,” he told Sabahi.
“Since another region was being added to an area that Puntland controls, it had the right to be consulted and to be convinced,” he said.
The October 14th agreement was also dismissed by the Central State stakeholders, who in retaliation suspended their co-operation with the federal government.
“The agreement will create conflict and disagreement, and will create doubts among the people [of the central regions],” President of Galmudug Abdi Hassan Awale Qeybdiid told Sabahi. “The points the two sides agreed upon do not work in favour of the country, co-existence and reconciliation.”
“The constitution is above everyone, both leaders and the public, but that agreement has violated the federal constitution,” he said.
Boundaries and Federation Commission not yet formed
Qeybdiid said they are particularly opposed to the article that divides Mudug into north and south territories.
“That article directly contradicts the federal constitution, which states two or more regions can create an administration,” he said, adding that the prime minister used powers he does not have under the constitution to divide Mudug. “Article 111 states the Boundaries and Federation Commission has the power to define the borders of regions and districts, and that commission has not been named yet.”
Daud, the political science professor at Mogadishu University, said the federal government should have first created the Boundaries and Federation Commission, and it should be the one to define or divide regional boundaries.
In addition, he said, the 12-point agreement raises new issues with Puntland that the federal government cannot resolve.
“Each federal state will have the right to request an agreement that is similar to the one the government reached with Puntland and that could lead to constant conflict,” he said. “Considering this agreement, it divides the people of Mudug along clan lines with clans from Puntland joining Puntland and southern clans joining the central region administration because they are from the same clan as the people there.”
“That provision of the agreement will encourage other administrations to request that the government carve out [and annex to their state] territories inhabited by people from their clan that are part of other regions,” he said. “This will result in setbacks and [tribal] conflict for the government because all the administrations have the same rights.”
Government ‘dragging its feet’ on creation of Central State
ASWJ chairman Sheikh Ibrahim Hassan Gureye, one of the signatories of the agreement reached at Villa Somalia on July 30th, said they are waiting for answers from the federal government on why it changed the previous agreement to create a unified administration for the Mudug and Galgadud regions.
“We will engage in talks and negotiations with the prime minister and the president so that they can clarify their stance on the ongoing effort to create an administration for the central regions,” Gureye told Sabahi. “It will be a positive thing if the government corrects its mistake, but if it does not correct it, we will build our own administration and break ties with the government.”
Gureye said that stakeholders already started to engage in consultations and intend to move forward according to the original agreement.
For his part, Galmudug President Qeybdiid said, “We will not go back on our decision. It is the government’s responsibility to make amends because we are on the correct path. The decision lies with the traditional elders and residents of the regions.”
The Puntland administration declined Sabahi’s request to respond to the grievances of the stakeholders from the central regions.
Nonetheless, the federal government said the aim of its agreement with Puntland was to re-initiate its relationship with Puntland.
“We welcome the agreement, and we are grateful to anyone who took part in the rebuilding efforts,” said Mohamed Keynan, communications director for the Office of the President, adding that despite the progress to rebuild Somalia in the past few years a lot of work remains to be done.
“There are efforts under way to create the boundaries, federalism and electoral commissions,” he told Sabahi. “These will enable the federal government to create federal administrations through a consultative process.”
Keynan, however, also declined to comment further on the grievances of the central region stakeholders and the conflict caused by the agreement between Puntland and the federal government.
By Abdi Moalim