August 13, 2016-(Mareeg.com)Four years of highly “Enhanced” international engagement between the federal Government of Somalia and the International Community did not lead to a political election that strengthens the foundations of peace building and state building based on the rule of law, accountability, and democratic governance. Following the failure to fulfill the constitutional obligation of one person one vote (OPOV) election in 2016, a National Leadership Forum (NLF) composed of 5 Presidents of federal and regional states, the Speaker of demobilized Parliament, the Prime Minister (PM), and Deputy Prime Minister (Ex Officio President of Somaliland state) assumed the responsibility of setting the rules for an indirect election. The NLF also takes long term consequential decisions on national security and political dispensation without due process.
The last meeting of the NLF held in Mogadishu on August 2-9, 2016 issued a communiqué later criticized by some members. The Communiqué conveys among other things the following decisions:
- Extension of the term of the President and the federal parliament until such time that the Federal and State Indirect Electoral Implementation Teams (FIEIT and SIEITs) announce the winners of scheduled elections. This unlawful decision amended the constitution to prevent the rightful action of caretaker Government in order to uphold the supremacy of the rule of law and restoration of public confidence. There are high incentives and practical complications which could spoil the implementation of credible elections as indicated below.
- The election of the Upper House will take place on September 25, 2016
- The election of the House of the People will take place On September 24-October 10, 2016.
- The swearing in of the elected members of both houses of the federal parliament will be on October 20, 2016.
- The elections of the two speakers of the federal parliament will be on October 25th 2016.
- The Election of the President of the Federal Republic of Somalia will be on October 30th, 2016.
- Completion of the formation of Hiran and Middle Shabelle State before parliamentary election.
- Appointment of the members of the SIEIT. All SIEITs including the team of the yet to be formed Hiran and Middle Shabelle State have been appointed with a decree of the Prime Minister. The FIEIT has been appointed with Presidential Decree. There are no legal act that establishes the responsibilities and powers of the FIEIT for accountability, disciplinary, and criminal prosecution for wrongdoing and mistakes. The Chairman of FIEIT Omar Mohamed Abdulle “Dhegey” held a press conference urging the public to trust the FIEIT for wanting to carry out their assignment with impartiality.
- Transfer of the unfulfilled responsibility concerning the review and finalization of the provisional constitution to the next federal parliament. The next federal government will take office with dishonored Provisional Constitution.
- Obligation of each member of the next federal parliament to join one of legally established political parties during the first two years of the four-year parliamentary term, otherwise he or she will lose the parliamentary seat. This bizarre dictate interferes with the prerogatives of next parliament and subverts the legitimacy and accountability of clan representation of members of the House of the people before the end of the term of office.
- Appointment of Conflict Resolution Committee (CRC) of 21 members of which 9 members will be appointed by the federal government and 12 members by the six (6) federal member states. 3 members of the CRC will be stationed in each electoral location. Complainants will pay US$ 1,000 (one thousand dollars) for submitting dispute to the CRC. This infringes the right and responsibility of political participation.
- Election of 81 female members of the House of the people and 50 % of the Upper House of the next Federal Parliament. Female candidates will pay 50% of the fee paid by male candidate. The proposed fee is US$ 5,000.
- After consultation with the traditional leaders of Banadiri community, the PM will appoint 21 Banadiri Electoral College for the election of 2 members of Banadiri Community to the Upper House of the Federal Parliament. The traditional leaders will appoint the candidates competing to the 2 seats. Paradoxically, this complicates the unsettled question of Benadir region (Mogadishu) representation in the Upper House which will comprise representatives of clans and federal member states.
- Increase of the seats of Upper House allocated to Puntland State from 11 to 13 seats.
- Assignment of the responsibility of the distribution of the Upper House seats among the 4.5 clans to the 135 Traditional leaders.
- As an exception, NLF assigned 3 seats included in the Somaliland allocation to communities in Buhodle, East Sanag, and Sol. The election process for the Upper House within the “Somaliland Communities” is not clear.
As unprecedented and ominous development, the President of Galmudug State Abdikarim Hussein Guled and the Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte, leader of Somaliland (Northwest, Awdal, Sol, Sanag, and Togdher regions) took exceptions to some of the decisions conveyed in the official Communiqué. This open quarrel on the official Communiqué within NLF has discredited the integrity and legitimacy of the NLF decision making process.
The creation of the NLF has obliterated the supremacy of the provisional constitution and rule of law based on democratic checks and balances. Somalis are left without legitimate independent credible mechanism for challenging and seeking redress any of its illegal, unfair, harmful or disputable actions. Thus, the prevailing Somali public view is that the electoral process will not be free, fair, and transparent as vehemently claimed in national and international arenas. Indeed, the growing skepticism and disenchantment of the Somali opinion on the electoral process could frustrate the enhanced engagement of the international community with Somalia.
In an interview on the eve of the abovementioned NLF meeting, the Special Representative of the UN Secretary General (SRSG), head of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), Mr. Michael Keating described the UN role in the electoral process of Somalia as an advisor and a facilitator bringing together the Somali leaders to discuss “what is desirable for Somalia” and achieving “what they want to achieve through this [electoral] process.” He pointed out that a number of things has to be put in place for the credibility of the electoral process “in the eyes of the Somali public and indeed in the eyes of the international community.” The achievement of this goal with the NLF electoral patchwork design is doubtful.
In response to the question about the role UN played in the formal adoption of the legislation model through presidential decree, the SRSG shied away from it and digressed to the catchphrase that “the 2016 electoral process is the midway point 2012 and 2020” to promote the 2016 electoral process. The Federal Parliament ceased to function.
In comparing the 2012 and 2016 electoral processes, the SRSG limited himself to point out the differences in terms of number of electorate colleges, electoral locations, and percentage of women’s participation. However, he did not mention that the planned 14,025 voters are far less than the numbers of 55,000 to 100,000+ voters suggested by the majority of the Somali civil society for combatting corruption and increasing public participation. Based on experience, the hype for the feasibility and reliability of 2020 electoral OPOV model is premature and risky.
On the partiality of working with FIEIT, the SRSG responded that the UN works with everybody based on the presumption that “this is a very unique moment in Somalia history and our job is to make sure that Somalis are sorting out what they want, are benefitting from global experience regarding rules, procedures, what makes a process transparent, what can make it fair, What can make it verifiable and so on.” On the electoral preparation, the UN preferred to work with 8 incumbent leaders as counterparts over the federal parliament, civil society, public intellectuals, and influential leaders.
Mr. Mohamud M Uluso