Over 100 MPs have signed and presented a petition to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud asking him to resign, citing 14 points of failure.
And by gaining a necessary 1/3 of votes from Somalia’s 275 MPs, parliament has also succeeded in tabling a motion to debate whether the President should be impeached–depending on whether he submits to pressure over his resignation.
Why Not Resignation First?
Importantly, MPs are seeking a resignation of the President rather than impeachment at this juncture.
This is because Article 92 of Somalia’s provisional constitution covering impeachment proceedings appears to require the action of a constitutional court–which currently does not exist–in order to determine the legitimacy of the grounds for discharging the president.
The absence of a constitutional court puts a legal obstacle to carrying out impeachment proceedings, and even MPs disagree on whether the Supreme Court–chaired by Justice Abdullahi Aideed Ilka Hanaf–is legally able to serve in its place.
President Hassan has even hinted at this procedural stumbling block when he told MPs that “the correct channels should be followed as the provisional Federal Constitution stipulates” regarding his potential impeachment.
While the parliament continues to hone in on the multiple failures of the president, it is perhaps ironic–if not hypocritical–that the failure to form a constitutional court and corresponding Judicial Service Commission is a collective failure of the parliament and Prime Minsters’ cabinets.
In response, perhaps some would blame President Hassan for the ineffectiveness of his right-hand man Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir, who is Minister of Justice and Constitutional Affairs.
Feast and Famine
The timing of the revolt against the president is at a crucial point.
Low rains, ongoing military operations, and al-Shabaab’s destruction of water wells and road blockade of assistance all have exacerbated food insecurity and contributed to the vulnerability of local communities.
Even after the failed local and international response to the 2011 famine, the utmost priority of the parliament is not to focus on preventing the next disaster but to concentrate on ousting the president by whatever means possible.
As one Twitter commentator pointed out, this context bears an eerie resemblance to the parliament’s efforts to pass a no-confidence vote against now ex-Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon while the effects of environmental disasters ravaged Puntland and Middle Shabelle regions.
To be sure, President Hassan has led an administration that has experienced numerous controversies and is far behind on the implementation of federalism, improving security, and other objectives that comprise his 6 pillar plan.
But parliament has not fared much better.
Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari many times has had to herd enough MPs to meet quorum. As if collective truancy wasn’t enough, parliament has also not fulfilled its obligations to pass key laws, set up important commissions, and perhaps most importantly conclude its portion of work on the provisional constitution.
Overall, parliament has not been a fair partner in government bearing the weight of what needs to be done with its counterparts.
An Ambiguous Democracy
The new threat to impeach the President highlights how MPs are motivated by all types of interests–all parts political, personal, social, and financial–that do not add up to a concrete vision for sculpting the country’s future.
To any reasonable observer of the current debacle, it is certain that some amount of money will exchange hands between MPs and other parties–it always has with such procedures–as parliament and the president continue on their collision course.
Even if the parliament can convince the necessary 2/3 of its members to vote in favor of impeachment (the magic number being 184), there is much ambiguity about whether the lack of a constitutional court would put a stop to the process at that point.
If it is pushed through in the constitutional court’s absence, it will be much harder to call the ouster a “display of democracy,” as was heralded with the forced exit of PM Shirdon.
Categories: Somali Government