In early May at a week-long summit in Garowe, Somali leaders failed to agree on a myriad of issues related to security, elections, political meddling, and revenue sharing.
There is no way forward for resolving the key policy differences between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) until regional administrations provide their specific recommendations to draft legislation from the Prime Minister’s cabinet and parliament.
Regional administrations should publicly release the revenue sharing formula they seek to incorporate into the natural resource bill, which is under consideration in the Upper House. Part of the current revenue sharing formula under consideration is as follows:
o FGS – 55%
o Hosting regional administration – 25%
o Hosting district – 10%
o Non-hosting regional administrations – 10%
o FGS – 30%
o Hosting regional administration – 30%
o Hosting district – 20%
o Non-hosting regional administrations – 20%
While regional administrations oppose the current formulation in part because they claim they were not consulted, there is no way out of the impasse without knowing the regions’ preferred formulas.
The Somali public deserves more transparency about where the regional administrations stand to assess the nature of regional administrations’ grievances.
Is the difference between the FGS and regions’ policy proposals so vast that it requires a suspension of cooperation with the FGS? Or, are the regions more focused on political opposition to a federal government that, in fairness, is not going to share power to the regions easily?
This question is impossible to answer without knowing where the regions stand on the policy issue itself, and regional administrations have made little effort to fill this information gap.
Similarly, regional administration should announce their preferred election format for 2020-21 elections. National parliamentary elections are due to be held around August 2020 while the presidential election should occur near February 2021.
Several regional leaders have opposed the current electoral bill, which indisputably contains controversial clauses.
Article 56 of the bill states that the president would retain the right to delay elections and extend the term of the executive and legislative branches under circumstances of an emergency, including insecurity, flooding, and drought. Regional administrations believe President Mohamed Abullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” would be eager to leverage this clause to extend his term in office.
Another clause in Article 12 stipulates that if no presidential candidate earns a majority vote among parliamentarians, then political parties whose votes surpass the 50% margin can unite behind a common candidate to be declared president. Opposition parties have highlighted that this measure contravenes Article 89 of the provisional constitution, which requires a candidate to reach a two-thirds majority to be elected.
None of the regional administrations that plan to participate in 2020-21 elections have held a statewide one person-one vote election. So, it would be unreasonable if they maintain the position that the FGS must do the same in the next cycle. Similarly, the National Independent Election Commission (NIEC) continues to make efforts toward a one person-one vote system but it is unlikely the system will be put in place by 2020.
This makes it all the more important for the regions to propose a new alternative election format or support using the election format from 2016-17, which established an electoral college for members of parliament, who then select a president.
Any efforts outside of presenting specific policy positions on draft legislation amount to political theater that will not effectively address admittedly flawed legislation.
Regional administrations must cease claims of “not being consulted” on draft legislation and use their representation in the parliament’s Upper House – whose members were hand selected by regional leaders – as voices for their interests while legislation is being debated.