In violation of the Provisional Constitution, the law on establishing local administrations (districts and regions before federal states), the recommendations of the “Vision 2016 Conference” held in Mogadishu in September 2-6 2013, the mandates of the Ministry of Interior and Federalism, the purpose of Boundaries and Federation Commission, and the impartial mediation between two rival groups, on June 23, 2014, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud presided a ceremony at Villa Somalia in which he declared the formation of Southwest Federal Member State composed of three regions (SW3)-Bay, Bakol, and Lower Shabelle and rejected the rival one of six regions (SW6) which included Jubbaland State regions- Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba, and Gedo. The ceremony was held to disclose a “fraudulent document” signed on June 22, 2013 between Mohamed Haji Abdinur (Madder), President of SW3 and Abdifatah Mohamed Ibrahim Geesey, former Minister of SW6 sacked by President Madobe Mohamed Nuunow days before he signed the document.
For political reasons, the Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Religious Affairs Ridwan Hersi Mohamed signed the document on behalf of the federal government as guarantor. The Representatives of the United Nations, the African Union, the European Union, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), signed it as witnesses and their organizations plus the United States released instantaneous press statements as preemption for anticipated objection of SW3. This replicates the show of the Interim Jubba Agreement signed between Raskamboni Militia Leader Ahmed Madobe and Minister Farah Sh. Abdulkadir in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia on August 27, 2013. In practice, IGAD (Ethiopia and Kenya) leads both processes.
The significance of the two documents which created two disputed regional states is to transfer the ownership of the political power in the regions to a clan. Thus, both documents disenfranchised large segment of Somali citizens in each area and compromised the Somali reconciliation, governance, and security situations. As Jubbaland State (Ogaden-Darod), the SW3 represents Digil and Mirifle (DM) State where other clans are considered migrants.
The next political turmoil to watch for will be the formation of Benadir State, Middle Shabelle and Hiiran State, Galgudud and Mudug State which will incorporate the districts- Galkaio, Galdogob, and Jarriban now claimed by Puntland, the re-demarcation of Puntland State composed of Bari and Nugal regions, and the fates of Khatumo and Maakhir States comprising Sool and Sanaag regions. In addition, the outcomes of three matters will also be game changers: the dialogue between Somaliland State and the Federal Government, the regional State planned for the minority 0.5 (Others), and the delimitation of the side for the federal government’s Headquarter.
Not surprisingly, the decision of President Hassan has angered the majority of DM leaders, people, and Diaspora who passionately supported SW6 and opposed SW3 and Jubbaland State. Large demonstrations took place in Baidoa. President Hassan chose not to adhere to the course of actions outlined in the Provisional Constitution for the resolution of the disputed concept of federalism (decentralization) in Somalia and embarked on the creation of federal states without legal foundations. Thus, the unconstitutional decision intensified the public contempt for the federal government and the international community for their policies of deepening Somalia’s fragmentation.
Majority of the Somali people believe that the fraudulent document was prompted by the desire of foreign officials in charge of Somalia to present the establishment of non-functional federal states as a success story to the upcoming international conference on Somalia in Denmark. On their part, the Somali leaders are eager to compete for complying with the desire of their foreign handlers for legitimacy and financial support because Somali public opinion has no influence on their actions. There are reports of use of corruption, intimidations, and divisive tactics to gain support for SW3. These tactics would produce dangerous consequences.
The SW3 document written in English was most probably drafted by the United Nations Office headed by Ambassador Nicholas Kay. In full knowledge of the unpopularity of IGAD-UN-EU imposed clan federalism, the drafters inserted in the document words of punishment and intimidation against legitimate opponents. Prime Minister Abdiweli Sh. Ahmed issued press statement hailing the document and scoffing its opponents. Ironically, talking to the Governor and district commissioners of Benadir region claimed by Hawiye clan, he asked the officials to make Benadir region a place where all residents will have equal rights, protections, and opportunities in variation to other regions.
The Minister of Interior and federalism Abdullahi Godah, responsible for the policy and administration of federal matters has been excluded from the decision to side with SW3. Instead, Dr. Khalid Omar Ali, Minister of Sports and Youth has been appointed as the liaison of the federal government with SW3. The act was in general a breach of government regulation and in particular an affront to the leadership and responsibility of Minister Abdullahi Godah who rightly described the document as unconstitutional, premature, and politically unwise. Precedents predict that IGAD will label and pressure the dismissal of the Minister who got special vote of confidence from the federal parliament.
Geeska Africa website published a news item under the title “Somalia: Abdi Afey call Godah Barre will be considered Al-shabab Sympathizer.“ It says, “According to the sources close to IGAD: the special representative of IGAD to Somalia Mohamed Abdi Afey announced that any Somali cabinet or official within the federal Somali Government who disagrees with the three states deal will be considered as Al-Shabab sympathizer in Somalia and the region.” President Hassan echoed similar threat in his speech during the ceremony. This is an insult to the dignity and sovereignty of the Somali people and leaders.
Detailsof the SW3 document
The SW3 document consists of a preamble and 11 articles. The preamble asserts that the presidents of SW6 and SW3 after face to face meeting facilitated by the federal government in Mogadishu agreed on the formation of SW3. This assertion has been categorically refuted by the President of SW6, Madobe Nunow and supporters. Therefore, the document is fraudulent and cannot be called an agreement because of the false assertion and the illegal signature.
In an interview with Sahabi (Washington, D.C.), President Nunow insisted that before achieving compromise (agreement), there was a need to talk on how to identify and protect the rights of the people of the same ancestry living in the six regions and how they will be able to participate in their local government politics. The SW6 position agrees with the provisional constitution overlooked by the federal government. Beleaguered President Hassan decided to seek relief in divisive foreign driven clan federalism.
Articles 2 and 3 stipulate that regional partners [Ethiopia and Kenya] and the international community will arbitrate the inclusion of constituencies in the Interim Jubba and Southwest Administrations. Article 4 establishes that the Federal Government will facilitate consultations between Jubba and Southwest Administrations whenever appropriate. Article 10 calls the international Partners to take appropriate measures against any group or individual who actively oppose the two administrations for their unconstitutionality.
The SW3 document is not vetted in accordance with government practices. It defies the social contract between the federal government and the Somali citizens, reaffirms the illegitimacy of Jubbaland formation, obliges the federal government to trample the rights of other Somali citizens, misrepresents the position of SW6 supporters, foments internal conflicts, overrides the purpose and work of the Boundaries and Federation Commission, and empowers clients of Ethiopia and Kenya.
In an interview with Sahabi, Mohamed Abdullahi Mursal, Minister of Planning and Coordination of SW3 has summed up the significance of SW3 absolute victory when he said that “SW3 officials will hold talks with all relevant clans and will give everyone from the region an opportunity to take part in the administration.” In the Somali context, many expressions have special connotations. Therefore, Somalis interpret the messages of Minister Mursal in different light.
“Not all readers are leaders, but all leaders are readers.” President Henry S.Truman
In addition to the provisional constitution, many foreign organizations and experts have lately issued warning reports expressing serious concerns about setbacks to statebuilding in Somalia. In Policy Briefing of June 26, 2014 the International Crisis Group (ICG) has put forward four recommendations that could reverse the deteriorating situation of Somalia. Among them are: (1) the federal government should establish local and regional administrations that privilege neither the federal government appointees nor the clients of the neighboring countries; and (2) the federal government should make the Somali political grievances the paramount focus, not regional or wider international priorities.
Furthermore, in an article published by the European Union Institute for Security Studies in June 2014, titled “Somalia’s federal Agenda: from fragility to Fragmentation,” Dr. Dominik Balthasar argued for an urgent unification of Somali people and the strengthening of the central administration vis-à-vis the federal member states. He urged the international community to adhere to the principles of the Somali Compact and to support national institutions and political parties that span regional and clan divides.
Leaders of the federal government must read honestly the reality, aspirations, and interests of their country and people better than and prior to foreign researchers, observers, analysts, and international community. Political deception, empty words, and spins do not bring about positive changes. The divergent Somali public opinions and grievances should matter seriously and guide the decisions of national leaders.
(*) The author, analyst Mr. Mohamud M Uluso, can be reached directly via: mohamuduluso[AT]gmail.com