Somalia’s peace-building process and state recovery have suffered in the last five years under the leadership of former President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. Confidence in the armed forces eroded, separation of powers between the legislature and the executive diminished, democracy weakened, and relationships with the international community and neighboring countries deteriorated. We can also say that without any doubt, President Farmaajo sealed his presidency with the most consequential and corrupt parliamentarian elections that ever happened in Somalia and beyond. Despite all the challenges generated by the outgoing President, the upcoming government must bring back the country on the right course, repair the damages done by its predecessor, and continue the peace-building process. Although many big issues are awaiting the new government to wrestle with, the two most significant tasks are the non-politicization of the armed forces and respecting the independence of the legislature.
In order for democracy to thrive, the armed forces must pledge fidelity to the country and constitution. They must use their moral compass to do the right thing and ignore orders from the top if it violates the constitution. The military and other security agencies must protect everyone equally regardless of their political affiliations and defend the country against individuals with tyrannical tendencies. Equally important to mention is that there is a handful of people who are outspoken and beat the drum of nationalism to hide their nefarious intentions. The good majority should open their eyes wide open and disclose the bad actors who hide their true intentions under the banner of nationalism. In ensuring that happens, the next 11th parliament must pass laws that proscribe law enforcement agencies from interfering in local politics.
When the outgoing President came to power, his focus was on undermining and weakening the federal institutions of the country. He began getting rid of regional Presidents and installing loyalists to bolster his grip on power. In achieving this goal, he used his power as President and head of the armed forces to repress his opponents and advance his political and personal ambitions. The President did not care about the constitutionality, legality, and consequences of his actions. He, unfortunately, succeeded in overthrowing Southwest, Galmudug, and Hir-Shabelle regional presidents and replaced them with loyalists to help him succeed in a second term. In doing so, he used the armed forces, killed civilians, displaced many people, and properties were destroyed, and imposed illegal and inhumane sanctions on the people of Jubaland State. Farmaajo utilized state institutions for personal dictatorial desires. Additionally, he unlawfully added two years to his term. In preventing the same scenario from taking place again, the next new parliament must ensure that any law enforcement agent, military personnel, or anyone associated with security to not associate with politicians or face consequences. The current heads of security agencies who are involved in politics must from their positions immediately
The second major task for the upcoming parliament is the separation of powers between the legislature and the executive. The legislature is for oversight and the executive is to serve the country. The 11th parliament must pass a bill that prohibits members of parliament from accepting positions in the executive in any role or capacity. By doing so, the legislature will have all the powers in exercising its powers and holding the executive accountable. The legislature represents the citizens, and they must do their job rather than seek ministerial positions to enrich themselves.
Somalia had the weakest legislative body since the creation of the Republic of Somalia with the exception of the twenty-one years of Siad Barre’s regime. The past five years’ experience makes it imperative the separation of the two bodies of government. The President used the parliament as a tool against his opponents and a rubber stamp for his whims and desires. For instance, President Farmaajo eliminated House Speaker Jawari in less than half an hour, fired his Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre in eight minutes, and forced them to extend his term for two years. The tenth parliament was part of the executive rather than independent and the highest constitutional body of the country.
My appeal to the next government is to rise above clan and personal politics and serve the country with dignity and pride. The independence of the armed forces and law enforcement agencies, and the separation of powers between the executive and the legislature are crucial in avoiding a constitutional crisis. These two steps will stop demagogues from compiling so mush powers and using them for personal reasons. There must be deterrents in the constitutions that prohibit members of the security organs from mingling in politics. The Speaker Sheikh Adan Madoobe must act in passing these two bills before it is too late for him. The fate of his predecessors is a practical lesson for Madoobe to act swiftly and prudently.
Abdirizak M. Diis M.A in Political Science
The author is an academic and International Relations expert and East African political Analyst based in Minneapolis, MN