Somalia: No justification for ratifying the Draft Constitution
In due consideration of the widespread opposition to the draft constitution, the international community and the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) should honor the opinions of the concerned Somali stakeholders and prevent ratifying itcrookedly. The 1960 constitution and the Transitional Federal Charter (TFC) provide sufficient legal basis for the formation ofnew national interim authority under the control of credible people’s representatives, Council of Elders and Council of Experts before August 20, 2012 with the specific tasks of setting up a sustainable and durable legal, political and institutional foundations for the Somali State. The admirable role of the international community would be to facilitate a process that celebrates new trajectory which completely ruptures with the present approach based on taking advantage of Somalia’s misfortune.
There is no justification for the ratification of the draft constitution at this juncture. Besides the controversial articles onhuman rights, citizenship, borders, religion, Mogadishu status, election of president and constitutional amendments, a review of the articles related to representation, structure and relations between various levels of government, and territory, illustratesfurther fatal flaws in the draft constitution.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed of TFG expressed publically his personal reservation on some articles of the Draft Constitution.But for self-preservation, he denounced other opponents for rejecting the draft constitution for the same reasons he held.
On May 4, 2012 Sheikh Mohamed Abdi Umal, a well-knownSomali Islamic scholar, delivered a powerful speech about theunacceptability of the draft constitution. His critique centeredamong others on three defects: (1) the secrecy surrounding the constitution making process and the submission of the draft constitution to the traditional leaders and Constituent Assembly without prior broad based public consultation and scrutiny; (2) exclusion of the Somali Islamic scholars from the drafting and consultation process of the constitution; (3) the lack of opinion of trusted Somali constitutional experts on the text of the draft constitution.
On the same day, President Dr. Abdurahman Mohamed Faroleof Puntland State come out forcefully against the draftconstitution in a letter he sent to the key actors of the international community- UN, US, UK, AU, and IGAD- in the constitution making process of Somalia. Subsequently PuntlandAdministration submitted detailed amendments superseding the April draft constitution.
In asking an urgent meeting to be held in Addis Ababa or inNairobi between the “roadmap stakeholders” renamed “Somali Principals,” with the participation of key actors, President Farolecited the following four reasons:
For self-acquittal, he lashed out other opponents of the draft constitution for not seeing and reading the April draft constitution he have seen, read and disliked because the latter draft was only in the possession of the six roadmap stakeholders. He expressed his support for the final warning of AU, UN and IGAD for punitive actions against those labeled spoilers. This typifies classical hypocrisies marring the credibility ofSomalia’s leaders.
In nutshell, statements a, c, and d summarize the main reasons for the popular objection to the draft constitution with regard to the legitimacy and integrity of the constitutional process and with regard to the substance. These flaws cannot be redressed in a meeting in Addis Ababa or Nairobi.
In separate note, the call of President Farole for a meeting in Addis Ababa or Nairobi shows the level of distrust among Somalis. Some of the guiding principles of Puntland leaders on the restoration of Somali State are: (1) The status of Mogadishu should remain undecided; (2) Regional States (Puntland State)and Federal Government are equals; (3) The Federal Constitution must conform to the Puntland Constitution which is adopted and permanent; (4) Issues of citizenship, land, and natural resource are matters of local responsibilities.
Chapter 6: Representation of the people:
In contrast to article 11(3) of TFC, the Draft Constitution doesnot mention the requirement for a national census before undertaking national or local elections or distribution of national resources.
Article 58 on international negotiations
Despite paragraph 3 of article 58 states that the federal government shall regard itself as a guardian of the interests of the regional states, paragraph 1 requires consultation with andparticipation of the regional states on the negotiations in connection with foreign trade, treaties or other major issues ofinternational agreement.
Article (59) authorizes the federal government to pass lawssetting a framework and guiding principles for local government. At the same time, Article 56 (g) and article 68prescribe that disputes between federal government and regional states should be resolved on the basis of mediation, negotiation and the spirit of cooperation as two neighbors by establishing special committees or boards. Puntland argues for two levels of Government- Federal and State only, while the Draft Constitution prescribes three levels-Federal, State and Local Government.
In accordance with Article 66, the federal government cannot give directives to the Regional States for compliance with the constitutional provisions unless the House of Regional Statespasses a resolution on the subject.
Article 69 on state boundaries and article 70 on the creation of new state
Article 69 (3) establishes that state boundaries shall be based on the boundaries of the administrative regions as they existed mainly before the 1990 civil war. In accordance with article 69 (3) and article 11 (2) of the TFC, Puntland loses the legitimacy of a Regional State. Theoretically, Puntland comprises 5 regions but practically it has excluded part of Mudug region like SouthGalkaio, Hobyo and Harardere districts while it has annexedBuuhodle district which belongs to Togdheer region.
For the creation of new states, it is required the compliance withfour conditions:
These conditions are stumbling block for the imposed creation of new regional states. It’s kind of vicious circle. Thus, the persistence of confusion and bickering is assured.
Article 71 Admission of new members to the Republic
This article 71 as article 172 reflects the presumption that theterritory of the Federal Republic of Somalia falls between Mogadishu and Galkaio, while Puntland, Azania, Bay-Bakol-Lower Shabelle (South West State), and Somaliland will beadditions to the federation in due course. As paragraph 1 of this article makes clear, Federal Somalia (Central-Mogadishu) willnegotiate with other regions on their conditions and terms for joining the federation.
The nature of the presidency
Article 94 paragraph 1 says that in order to strengthen the unity of the nation the two houses of parliament shall endeavor to ensure that the office of the president is rotated between different groups in society.
Office of the Attorney General
As per article 128, only the House of Regional States selects one of the candidates proposed by the Judiciary Service Council as Attorney General and the president shall appoint that personwithout reference to parliament or to Council of Ministers.
Regional State Institutions
Under article 140, Regional State Constitutions will establish thelegislative and executive bodies of the governments of the regional states. The state constitutions developed after the adoption of the draft constitution will be referred to the Constitutional Court for compatibility, while the federal constitution must conform to the existing regional constitution of Puntland. No Federal Government can exist and function before all regional states with their constitutions, parliamentsand council of ministers are established and the House of the Regional States is in place.
The outcome of the constitutional process which was murky and outside the public radar from the beginning is far from creating peace, stability, and development in Somalia. Given the immense complications for implementing the federal system in Somalia, one inevitable scenario could be that Somalis abandon the formation of national government representing Somalia and allow local states represent their people at all levels. However,National unitary Government with decentralized functional integrity and reliable checks and balances is the best option for all Somalis. The past should be a lesson for a bright future.
Maxamud M Culusow