The issue of federalism in Somalia is quite contentious and littered with all sorts of arguments. Nevertheless, federalization is inherently inevitable and has been prescribed in the current provisional constitution as the mode of governance in Somalia. Current debates on federalism generally center on the proper configuration of regions and the shapes and borders of future federal member states.

While the provisional constitution clearly stipulates and mandates that federal member states should not be based on clan borders but rather on existing 18 provinces of Somalia; the ongoing federalization process has been methodically perverted and has taken an unambiguous clan identity. The recent signing of the Garowe agreement by the Somali Federal Government and Puntland, which endorses the establishment of states based on clan demarcation is natural culmination of a federalization process that has been systematically personalized to fit the narrow political ambitions of the Somali Federal Government leadership and which has been synchronized with the geo-strategic and political ambitions of neighboring countries.

Generally, such machination does not tolerate and nor is it responsive to input from outside groups such as the civil society, political opposition, media and anyone who is impacted by the current political dispensation in Somalia. The ongoing intimidations and imprisonments of journalists and opposition politicians critical of the workings of the federal government is characteristic of its inherent inimicality to reform and corrective actions.

And it is precisely with this background in mind why the recent article by the former information Minister Abdirahman O. Osman which attempts to trigger discussions and debates on the federalization of Banadir is significant. Eng. Abdirehman O. Osman explains that there are 3 options for the Banaadir region:

          1. It can merge with other regions such as Middle Shebelle, after Lower Shebelle has merged with Bay and Bakool. Ex-Banaadir, which existed of Banaadir, Lower and Middle Shebelle, and Mogadishu was the capital city of Somalia.

          2. Banaadir can stand on its own for a period of two years and it can be administered by the Federal Government of Somalia until it decides which regions it is going to merge with.

          3. After reviewing the constitution, the possibility might emerge to make some amendments and review the possibility of Banaadir to form its own administration, since there are two million plus people living there who have the right to be represented on government level.

From a historical perspective, Mogadishu has always been part of the Banadir Region which also encompassed Middle Shabelle and Lower Shabelle. The deep historical ties that bind these regions from the Ajuuraan and Galedi dynasties to the anti-colonial struggle which was collectively partaken by all the clans of the region is quite known to those with rudimentary understanding of the history of the region. The calculated separation of Lower Shabelle from Banadir and its subsequent addition to an imagined state with Bay and Bakool, has directly impacted the destiny of Middle Shabelle and Banadir/Mogadishu.

The current provisional constitution stipulates three possible outcomes for Mogadishu. The first possibility stipulates that it form its own city-state and become a federal state of its own without joining any other region, the second possibility is that Mogadishu can join another state while at the same time being the federal capital (The Ottawa Model), the third and final possibility envisions the creation of a federal district within Mogadishu which will host the Somali federal government while the rest of the city is free to join another state (The Washington DC Model).

In our assessment, the first possibility which envisions Mogadishu becoming its own federal member state is entirely unacceptable as it distorts and undermines the demographic, economic and political rights of the native populations of Mogadishu, as their rights are diluted overtime as a consequence of the natural demographic changes by virtue of the city being a federal capital.

This leaves second and third possibilities as the possible fair and reasonable outcomes for Mogadishu. It is our view that the only way to accommodate the inherent rights of the local populations of Mogadishu and to complete the federalization process is to create a federal district within Mogadishu that hosts the federal government much like Washington DC while the rest of the city is free to join Middle Shebelle. This will satisfy the stipulations of the provisional constitution while at the same time safeguarding the fundamental rights and dignities of the local populations of Mogadishu.

Eng. Abdirehman O. Osman’s article is a welcome departure from the usual simplistic understanding of the federalism debate by Mogadishu’s elites and the culture of obfuscating the legitimate aspirations and hopes of the people of Mogadishu which ultimately deals a fatal blow to any attempt to create a viable and sustainable future for Somalia. The International Community should never let any particular group or political sect monopolize the federalism debate in Banadir. The people of Banadir have inalienable right to determine their own future free from outside exploitation and machinations.


Somali Agenda Editorial Team welcomes your feedback and comments:

Editor: [email protected]





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