As a caveat, I would like to state here that my argument against the involvement of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo of the Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) in any presidential elections of the federal member states (FMS) should not be interpreted as an approval of state elections. To the contrary, FMS elections are far from acceptable level.The responsibility for resolving legal disputes between federal government levels rests with the Constitutional Court.
President Formajo is responsible for everything wrong with the political elections in Somalia because he had the awareness, experience, opportunity, and constitutional responsibility of setting the stage for democratic electoral system at all levels of the federal government by promoting the completion of the federal constitution, the establishment of the constitutional court, credible election and party laws, and other critical institutions in 2017/8 but he has miserably failed.
That said, since the highest priority of President Farmajo is to remove President Haaf from office before 2020 in any way possible, he is now determined to force controversial presidential election in Galmudug state in July 2019 which marks the end of the four year term of former President Abdikarim Hussein Guled, elected on July 4, 2015. However, the term of President Ahmed Du’ale Ghelle Haaf, elected on May 3, 2017 ends on May 2, 2021, extended for another year for legitimate reasons described below. Galmudug state Constitution didn’t stipulate that the Vice President in office or newly elected president will complete the remaining period of the term of the president who vacates the office for death, resignation, or dismissal.
The case of the federal government is different. Article 95 (4) of the Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) stipulates that if an incumbent president vacates office before end of his term, the successor will complete the remaining period of the term. The federal president has no vice president and is not part of the executive, while presidents of FMS are heads of the executive branch of state governments and have vice presidents.
Each FMS has different constitution and structure. Article 120 of the PFC stipulates that each state constitution regulates the establishment of the legislative and executive bodies of each FMS independently. Each state shall have its state Supreme Court independent from federal Supreme Court. FGS and FMS share the Constitutional Court.
Furthermore, article 142 limits the intrusion of the federal government in the internal affairs of the FMS. It mandates that until the provisions of the federal government constitution and of the FMS constitutions are harmonized, the federal government should unambiguously respect the provisions of each FMS constitution. Therefore, Somali Federal President has no legal base, authority, role, and responsibility in the FMS presidential elections. In fact, former president of Puntland Professor Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gas successfully kept federal government out of Puntland Presidential election in January 2019. President Formajo attended the inauguration ceremony of the elected president Said Abdullahi Deni with circumspect and deference.
What is unique for Galmudug state is that it was initially established in 2015 as divided state and the international community demanded and lobbied for united Galmudug State to provide international support. After long and sustained personal efforts of President Haaf, Djibouti President Ismail Omar Ghelle and actors from the International community sponsored a reconciliation process between Galmudug State in Adado and Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama Central State Administration in Dhusamareb that culminated into Djibouti Agreement, hailed by President Farmajo, Presidents of the FMS and representatives of the International community who attended the inauguration ceremony held in Dhusamareb. Also, the UN Security Council warmly supported the implementation of Djibouti agreement that ended the divided Galmudug State.
The Djibouti agreement required the creation of First Minister position with some responsibilities taken from the President, the merger of 2 constitutions, 2 parliaments, 2 cabinets, and 2 security forces and administrations, 2 state emblems with the proviso that the combined parliament will ratify the new constitution. The new Constitution repealed prior constitutions and includes articles for new 4 year term for the parliament and president starting from May 3, 2018. That means that the term of Galmudug Parliament and President will end on May 3, 2022.
Overall, the unification of the Galmudug State has been received well and celebrated at local, national, and international levels. The major benefit from the unification of Galmudug authorities was to focus on democratic governance and development of the state. However, there have been local community members and former Galmudug leaders opposed to the implementation of Djibouti agreement for two main reasons: a) the agreement caused the relocation of Galmudug State from Adado, former temporary seat to Dhusamareb town, the state capital; and b) there was different structural power-sharing between Adado Galmudug State and Ahlu Sunna Central State Administration that caused power sharing variance. The merged Galmudug constitution provides provision for reform that will redress the anomalies before the 2022 election.
President Farmajo rather than helping to mitigate the side effects of the reconciliation and compromise agreement, he took advantage of local grievances for igniting new division and campaign for destabilization and strangulation by withholding the federal budget allocation and other international support to Galmudug state, an illegal and immoral action. The aim behind his action was to force the resignation or dismissal of President Haaf.
As pointed out by President Said Deni of Puntland in his press conference on the Garowe meeting between the FGS and FMS that ended without agreement, President Farmajo has shown categorical rejection of the principles of federalism listed under article 50 and the principles of collaborative relationship between various levels of government under article 51 of the PFC through formal, credible arrangement. Article 50 (C) requires the existence and sustainable relationship between FMS, and between FGS and FMS for the spirit of national unity. Article 51 reinforces the cooperative relationship between all levels of government. Law on the subject develops on sustained relationship and dialogue.
President Farmajo is not invoking any law or norm that allows him to mandate, involve, intervene, and fund Galmudug presidential election because neither the federal nor the state constitutions have given him that authority. It is disaster in the making if the federal president elected to uphold and protect the constitution and rule of law is determined to break the law and force controversial Galmudug presidential election.
The unlawful destabilization, economic embargo, and bullying of President Farmajo against President Haaf by using paid federal forces and social media cons, bribery, clan allegiances, and other abuses will open the door to warfare and permission to take the law into every ones’ own hands. In the absence of the Constitutional Court, urgent intervention of International diplomats, particularly the United Nations that spearheaded the unification of the Galmudug State is required to avoid further deterioration of the political and security situation in Galmudug State which could spill over to other parts of the country. The economic embargo should be lifted immediately.
The experience of the brazen illegal and violent process of Southwest state Presidential election under the patronage or direction of President Farmajo is still haunting the country and should serve as a dire warning for what could happen in other States unless such conduct is checked in immediately.
Immediate end of president Farmajo’s destructive campaign against Galmudug State is in the hands of the international partners interested in peacebuilding and statebuilding in Somalia. Silence will be interpreted as duplicity and permission for lawlessness and chaos.
By: Dr. Mohamud M Uluso