Clan dominant seekers are scapegoating 4.5 for their failure

Delegates attend a plenary session of the National Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu, Somalia. UN Photo
by Yusuf Abukar (Gosar)

by Yusuf Abukar (Gosar)

Since the collapse of the government in Somalia in early 1991, numerous conferences were held in an attempt to restore some sort of government in Somalia. However, with the exception of the Arta, Djibouti conference of 2000, all the previous conferences have failed miserably and pre-maturely. Unlike previous conferences, the Arta conference was attended by the genuine representatives of the Somali people consisting traditional clan leaders, religious leaders, civil society organisations, women and youth representatives. Whereas the previous conferences were exclusively invited and attended by the warlords, the same people who have created the mayhem and destruction in the country.

Considering the mistrust between the clans following the senseless and relentless fighting between the four armed clans and the atrocities committed by these clans against each other and against the unarmed clans for a decade, it became apparent to the delegates that these armed clans were not capable of reaching a compromise other than clan based power sharing.

At the same, despite the opposition of the armed clans to the idea of allocating some seats i.e. half of the seats that each of the armed clans is allocated in the parliament and the cabinet to the unarmed clans whom they refer to as Looma ooyaan (the ones that no one cries for) as a way of redressing the mistreatments suffered by these clans in the hands of the armed ones and to give them some sort of representation in the government was agreed. As a result of that, the 4.5 formula was reached as a solution. Subsequent to the Arta conference and the formation of the first Transitional National Government (TNG) in Arta in 2000, the same formula of power sharing between the clans was also used to form the Transitional Federal Governments (TFG) of 2004 in Nairobi and 2009 in Djibouti as well as the current Federal Government.

Why oppose to the 4.5 now?

In spite of it is weaknesses, the system has relatively worked well as it ensures almost every clan to have some sort of representation in the government. Yet, there are many people who are opposed to the idea for different motivations;

First group is principally opposed to the use of the 4.5 as they believe it to be wrong and an insult to the Somali people to use this form of power sharing in the 21st century when they have been capable of running one of the most effective governments in Africa and also had the first democratically held elections in Africa in 1967 where the incumbent president had transferred power peacefully which was unheard in Africa in the 1960s. On the other hand, considering the prevailing situation in the country, they appreciate that until the creation of an environment that is inducive for a free and fair elections to take place in the country, they have no choice but to accept what have been agreed as a temporary solution. And as the late great Islamic scholar Sheikh Omar Faruq (May Allah grant him Jannah) was quoted “ The 4.5 formula is not a fair formula, but a solution“.

Second group is opposed to the 4.5 on the basis that the clan based power sharing of 4.5 is not a fair one and should have been shared equally between the five clans rather than four and half. They point out to the fact that there has never been a clan based tally or count to determine which clan is a majority or a minority and the criteria currently used is only based on whichever clan that was and is capable of killing, maiming and displacing as many members of other Somali clans is considered to be a member of the league of majority clans, while any clan (s) that is not capable of harming others for whatever reason is seen as a minority.

The third group is motivated by clan dominance and blinded by clan bigotry because ironically these are the same people who have advocated, balkanised and divided the country along clan lines to have their own enclaves run exclusively by their clans for their clans and called it federal system. On the other hand they are now making the loudest voices in opposing and blaming the 4.5 and the central government for their failures. They have even dared shamelessly to come public and claim that 4.5 is an insult to the unarmed or 0.5 clans as it means that an individual from these clans is equal to a half of an individual from a majority clan!!. Therefore, they say, 4.5 is not compatible with the 21st century and for that reason it should not be used to select members of parliament in 2016. Instead, MPs should be selected/elected from the districts run by the clan states! In other words, effectively what they are saying is that since we now have our own ghettos which can only be elected from members of our clans, we also want the central government to deny these looma ooyaan clans to have any representations in the central government. However, my advice to this group is first practice what you are professing and demonstrate to the Somali public and to the central government that you are capable of delivering locally what you are asking the central government to deliver.

Finally, let us keep in mind that 4.5 was reached for a reason and was seen as a solution and should be in place until there is a viable alternative to it. The fact remains to this date that there is no fair and achievable alternative to it yet. Therefore, we should all work hard toward creating an environment that is inducive for a political parties to operate safely and freely, free and fair elections to take place and then we can depart from 4.5 formula to a civilised and internationally known voting system.


Yusuf Abukar (Gosar) is a former MP and can be reached at [email protected]

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