mareeg.com- May 1, 2018-Democratic constitutions provide legal instruments consisting of petitions and motions to the citizens, including elected officials, to promote public policy, seek justice and accountability, resolve political differences and conflicts, and ensure public participation in the political process. Particularly, the motion of no confidence (motion to vacate the chair) against Speaker of parliament is considered “privileged motion” which means it has fast track to the floor of parliament for debate and voting. Therefore, motion against the President, the Speaker and his deputies, and the Prime Minister and his Cabinet can’t be ruled out or limited.
That said, the surprise move of the top leaders of the “Executive Branch” of the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) – President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Formajo,” the Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire, and the President’s Chief of Staff Fahad Yassin Dahir portrayed as the strongest one among the Trio – to remove the Speaker of the House of People (HP) of the Federal Parliament of Somalia (FPS) from Office by all means necessary including use of force, has scuttled the high aspirations and hope of the majority of the Somali people rooted for democratic system of governance effused upon the election of President Formajo on February 8, 2017. After one year in power, the public jubilation towards President Formajo for his positive slogans and gentle demeanor positive slogans plummeted, while the deep disappointment felt towards former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud turned into nostalgia for return.
For clarification, it is important to highlight here that the President is not part of the executive branch of the FGS under article 97 (2) of the Provisional Constitution (PC). But, the behavior of the President as member of the executive branch is symbol of the disreputable political culture enduring in Somalia.
Major International and local Media Outlets like New York Times, Washington Post, Reuters, and AMISOM Daily Media Monitoring have reported that the motion was prompted by the quick unanimous passage of the legislation not only nullifying Berbera Port and Military Base agreement between DP World, UAE owned company, and the separatist Somaliland region of Somalia, but also banning the company to operate in any part of Somalia. The legislation included a clause prohibiting future foreign investment deals without parliamentary approval. The Upper House followed suit and approved the legislative act. As of today, no word about the president’s signing of the Act.
The African Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) described the motion as power struggle between the legislative and Executive branches of the Federal government. One explanation is President Formajo needs loyal Speaker, Prime Minister, Chief of Staff, media influence, and special security forces to consolidate his personal power.
On his side, Speaker Jawari pointed out at a news conference that the Executive Branch uses the motion to dismantle the independence and oversight authorities of the FPS over the Executive Branch. He also said that the motion is a retaliation after he refused to sign on an illegal deal wanted by the Executive branch. He did not offer details of the illegal deal. As standard protocol of the current leadership, the President and the Prime Minister did not bother to respond to the well-publicized accusations of constitutional transgressions and interference in parliament affairs against them. Accusations made in the past by victims of human rights violations, abuses and other wrongdoings by government forces were ignored. This pattern continues to inflame public discontent.
The motion has deepened public cynicism towards the Somali leaders, media, and security forces. As a result, the public perception that the statebuilding process in Somalia descended into gangsterism, despotism, and radicalism has increased dramatically.
The democratic motto celebrated in 2000 and the constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) adopted in 2012 have effectively banned the practice of the past anti-democratic political, economic, security, and administrative culture which led to the collapse of the Somali State and have mandated the path to democratic system of governance whereby the adherence to democracy, the supremacy of the rule of law, and respect of the human rights are paramount. The shady sponsorship and mishandling of the motion has defeated the years-long efforts and support by the International Community on strengthening the rule of law, free and fair elections, active and effective civil society, free speech and media, effective independent parliament, credible independent judiciary system, and multi-party political system.
Effectively, Speaker “Jawari” has been forcibly removed from office on March 14, 2018 when the First Deputy Speaker (FDS) Abdiweli Sheikh Ibrahim Mudey appointed himself as Interim Speaker of the federal parliament in the middle of the night in a press conference probably in his house. He is quoted saying that “The motion was brought to me by 107 MPs. I assessed its legality and I can say it is legitimate. I do not want people to be confused on the legality of the motion. Right now, how it will proceed to Parliament is my responsibility.” He then fired the Secretary General of the Federal Parliament to show he is in charge. Thus, the motion served to automatically dethrone the Speaker without parliamentary process.
In the early morning of March 14, 2018, the Somali media reported that the parliament’s chairmanship (the Speaker and his 2 Deputies), the Standing Committee of 16 MPs, and the Secretary General received and rejected the motion of no-confidence against Speaker “Jawari” on the basis of failing to have the required 92 signatures (1/3) of members of parliament (MPs) in accordance with article 65 (4) of the PC. 16 MPs formally withdrew from the motion allegedly signed by 107 MPs, before its presentation to the Standing Committee. Later, additional MPs denounced false use of their names and signatures.
Available information indicate that the motion was first started in October 2017 by small number of MPs for personal grievances but later seized by the executive for the removal of the Speaker in March 2018. For evidence, it is reported that about 42 members of the Council of Ministers who are also MPs, were signatories of the motion and publicly led the anti-Speaker campaign. This raises the fundamental question of separation of power between the legislative and executive branches required under article 3(4).
Article 97 (3) of the PC allows MPs to be members of the Cabinet. But, the formation of the Upper House should suspend the provision of article 97 (3). The official motion with allegations and signatories was not provided to the media and public immediately after presentation to the parliament for transparency and accountability.
In reaction to FDS’s midnight coup, Speaker Jawari agreed to the processing of the motion through parliamentary procedure for final vote within ten days. However, the FDS and signatories of the motion dismissed Speaker’s plea for vote and instead asked him to resign immediately to avoid facing humiliation never seen before. Alternatively, the concocted plan B was to by-pass the constitution and parliamentary rules and to use familiar anarchy, show of hand vote, and false vote counting to declare the passage of the motion. This is a rehearsal of the infamous gangsterism tactics of 2004-2012 parliaments.
The unprecedented move “take no prisons” putsch on the part of the executive branch was confirmed by the spectacle of April 12, when former Speaker Jawari was forced to sit at front raw with other members of parliament (MPs) before delivering his formal resignation speech to the federal parliament and handing over responsibility to new Speaker in accordance with article 9 (b) of the standing rules of parliament, while grinning FDS Abdiweli Mudey unlawfully occupied the Speakership’s Chair. The claim of voluntary resignation of the Speaker is disingenuous and serves to suppress the aversion and uproar to the kind of political hazard becoming accustomed in the Somali political practice. Term of office of resigned Speaker ends after official transfer of the power to new Speaker.