Imminent Constitutional Crisis
We will like to draw your attention to the imminent constitutional crisis Somalia is facing once again.
We decided to dedicate our Dhambal for this month to this looming crisis and to shed some light on the closing window of opportunity to address some of the core issues prior to the elections.
For the past decade, Somali stakeholders, the UN Family and the donors have succeeded in averting famine, government collapse and effectively mitigated both natural and man-made disasters.
All involved actors deserve to be commended for safeguarding the average struggling Somali to bear the additional burden of these disasters and for safely steering the country from a failed state to its current status of a fragile state. With this transition nearing completion, stakeholders need to abandon the old fire ﬁre-ﬁghting mindset and endorse the more long term strategic planning that is required, in line with the new emerging priorities and the needs of the country. It will be unwise to solely focus on fire-fighting and neglect the underlying constitutional cause as the country is preparing for elections that are yet fully anchored in the constitution.
Without an exception, the crises the country is experiencing can all be mitigated by prioritizing the importance of clear and unambiguous constitution.
The COVID-19, flood response and other efforts are being hampered by the lack of Intergovernmental Arrangements (Article 111F). The FGS recently released some of the resources it received last year to help flood victims of the previous flood in Hirshabelle. This came only after a tremendous amount of social pressure on Villa Somalia.
Another example is the unceasing FGS-FMS feud. Something that will continue to be a source of frustration and an obstacle to any tangible progress, unless the underlying constitutional questions are addressed as part of the Constitutional Review Process.
Conduit to the next Parliament
SRSG James Swan in his Security Council briefing on 21 May, eloquently worded the challenges Somalia is facing enabling SC members to get a sense and appreciate the high complexity and the variety of issues. But despite these challenges, stakeholders should not allow the Constitution Review to vanish from their radars. In the midst of a pandemic, floods and while battling one of the worst locust infestation in decades, the call to prioritise the Constitutional Review could unfairly be classified as a contradictio in terminis, or at best, a contradictio in adiecto. But such a statement could not be further from the truth.
The cycle of acting as a conduit to the next parliament needs to be broken and the current parliament and other relevant actors need to be strongly encouraged to prioritise the Articles that don’t require political agreements (i.e. 50.3% of the total Articles) and not pass the constitution project as received from the previous parliament to the 11th parliament. Doing so again will be considered to be a big failure and will constitute a reputational risk for International Partners and legitimacy decrease for FGS officials.
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