Photo Courtesy of Universal TV
By Dr. Abdi Ulusso

By Dr. Abdi Ulusso

The Speaker of the Parliament, Dr. Mohamed Osman Jawari has sent shock waves throughout the Capital City, Mogadishu because it is rumored, that he wants to table as first order of business for the parliament to debate on the “special status” of the Capital City, Mogadishu. Why, now? Wouldn’t, it be better for him to wait until all the regional states are established and their “authorities” can decide where it should be the National Capital of Somali Republic? After, all the parliament under his leadership has failed to enact laws to regulate the formation of regional states which will eventually threaten the federation and the remaining national unity of the country.

As a result, due to his failure and the parliament we have ill-gotten regional states of so-called Jubaland and South-West which are not all-inclusive, not established on the principles of democracy and whose presidents are not elected but self-appointed and at the same time they want to be federated without the free will of their people. Both, so-called presidents of Jubaland and South-West Ahmed Mohamed Islaam aka “Ahmed Madoobe and Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden respectively are now masters of these regions to select and appoint their own choice of members of parliament to favor and reward their clans men and friends etc. How, could this kind of parliament discharge its supervisory duties?

This is a new democratization process of employees supervising their employer and a classic miscommunication of democracy in a reverse gear. Worse, most properly the likes of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden and Ahmed Madoobe and others will select and appoint the next federal members of parliament. This shall, jeopardize in the long-run the federation and national unity of Somalia which best suits the countries in the region, especially Ethiopia who is the champion of these illegal regional state formations. Hope, this is not what the Foreign Secretary, Catherine Ashton meant when she said, that, “Democracy in Progress” in Somalia as a condition of the European Union (EU) to fund the federal government. However, the question is, why does the speaker want to question the Constitutional Status of Banadir Region and its fourteen districts and not other 17 Regions and their districts or the illegality of Jubaland and South-West as regional states? What, is in it for him?

Without, a doubt the speaker had more than enough time of almost three years to bring the matter before parliament and clearly spell-out procedurally what it really means the “special status” of the Capital City, Mogadishu to make into a law but he didn’t. Truly, speaking though this is unfortunate and provocative to think that the speaker can craft a new law and create a special status for Banadir Region while ignoring its constitutional status as one of the eighteen regions of the country which raises a lot of questions in the minds of many people, including myself and also his timing appears that he wants to undermine the federal government from within when it has only got less than two years left in office.

By the way, many people in Banadir Region believe that his denial of the constitutional status of Banadir Region and his timing has to do with the following reasons:

1. He wants to pre-empt those who wish to merge Banadir Region with Middle Shabelle which is a natural course to take for the people in these two regions and meet the requirement of minimum of two existing regions to establish a regional state according to the constitution.

2. He opposes Hamar Region, its surrounding environs, its fourteen districts and its people to combine with any other region to form an enlarged regional state which surely there is a majority support for it.

3. He wants to deny over two million and half people living in Hamar Region akas Banadir Region aka Mogadishu their political, economic, social, cultural, legal, constitutional and human rights to have representation, at the regional state level and at the federal level in both houses of parliament which is unfair to our residents.

4. His main goal is to re-structure Banadir Region to strip off its constitutional status and scrap its fourteen districts to fashion it after Ethiopia’s Capital City, Addis Ababa with no districts and under the exclusive jurisdiction of the federal government where the majority Oromo people who are the original residents of the city are politically disadvantaged and vote only for the mayor.

In my view, the speaker must seek inspiration and enlightened somewhere else but not from Ethiopia whose past history of absolute monarchs, tumultuous period of communism coupled with its diverse ethnic people and with its different races, languages, religions and as well as cultural and traditions is unlike Somalia. Also, Ethiopia which was never under colonialists and played a role for the colonialism of Africa and received its share for Somali-West and later annexed Eritrea and now is controlled by revolutionaries who are not and never will be “Good Political Managers” to make the country a modern and stable democratic state which is a great potential it might have in the future.

Thus, I believe that Ethiopia can’t be a role model for Somalia but it should be the other way around. After all, Somalia’s experience in democracy of multi-party system, free and democratic elections, freedom of speech and the press and human rights are all in the record unlike Ethiopia. For example, Somalia’s First President and Founding Father of the Nation and also the Somali Republic Hon. Aden Abdulle Osman was the first African President elected democratically in 1960’s and left office without holding on to power after loosing re-election with one vote in the parliament that was also democratically elected by the people which is an important and a valuable experience that Ethiopia lacks and yet it is a necessary step to take for the democratization process for its country.

Sadly, this is infant democracy of nine-years in Somalia which could have blossomed into a strong and vibrant democracy that could have competed with other great democracies in the world and become the envy of the African Continent including Ethiopia was cut short by a military coup. No, wonder why Ethiopia, a country of seventy-five million people the only opposition member in its “federal parliament” is boycotting the upcoming elections. However, the question is, does the speaker think that the “special status” of the Capital City, Mogadishu and the constitutional status of Hamar region are one of the same? What, about other regions in the country with the same constitutional status like Hamar Region? Will, he re-structure them to look like Addis Ababa too?

Let me get, one thing straight, I was present at the Somali National Peace Conference in Eldoret and Nairobi, Kenya when the architects who were mainly groups from Puntland, Bay and Bakool regions suggested the “special status” of the Capital City, Mogadishu and raised the issue implying to have concerns over fear of the city due to the dominance of its original residents, namely Hawiye. Tell, me something that I don’t know. Imagine, the same people who were raising these concerns and false claims of fear and other nuisance of battle for powers and resources between the regional state and the federal government none of their false claims are yet to be materialized and they continue to live and work in the Capital City, Mogadishu after almost fifteen years since the relocation of the transitional federal government (TFG) from Baidoa.

Anyway, we demand the speaker to make a clear distinction to the parliament between the constitutional status of Hamar Region and its districts which is already in existence by law and the special status of the Capital City, Mogadishu which means to enact a new law by stripping off the region’s status and scrapping its fourteen districts. I must, emphasis that, a care must be taken by the speaker to ensure that the special status question is clear, does not disguise the real issue of constitutional status of Banadir Region composed of fourteen districts and does not suggest by the manner in which the question is phrased as a “district” where the confusion comes from which is not.

Historically, Banadir Region was part of the 8 regions during the civilian government and also became part of the 18 regions during the military government of Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre who has created the current 18 regions of Somalia after breaking up the 8 regions including Banadir region which he has divided into three i.e., Banadir, Middle and Lower Shabelle Regions etc.

However, Gen. Mohamed Siad Barre made a different arrangements and set-up for the status of Hamar aka Mogadishu as region called Banadir Region and elevated its status as a “City State” and not as a single district but with fourteen districts. Some, national capitals are in fact states including those of Belgium and Germany. Of course, the constitutional status of Hamar Region and its fourteen districts were lawfully created based on Law No. 23, dated July 1974 and neither the speaker nor the parliament can put in jeopardy or question now after forty-one years in its existence because of the presence of the Capital City, Mogadishu within the Banadir Region which was there all the time even before independence.

On the other hand, it is not appropriate to question the constitutional status of Banadir Region and its fourteen districts when the speaker and parliament and or the government as a whole have failed to question the illegality of the formation of Jubaland and South-West to date. Given the above, I advice the speaker and the parliament to consider only answering in regards to the “special status” issue without going near the constitutional status of Banadir Region the following questions: where, Somalia’s National Capital should be? Will, it remain in Banadir Region and continue to be the national capital? Will, it be moved to another city in another region? Will, it be logic and reasonable for Banadir Region to become a full regional state of its own and host the national capital?

Therefore, I call upon the speaker and the parliament to interpret the “special status” of the Capital City, Mogadishu as it was intended by the military government to mean a full status of a state for Banadir Region because of its uniqueness, capacity to discharge the functions and responsibilities of a state, economic self-sufficiency, ability to deliver basic social services to its residents unlike any other region in the country and also it has more districts than any other region while it is inhabited the largest population in any region of Somalia which is very logic and reasonable to accept it as a full regional state based on these premises.

Also, I dare say that, we will not exclude anyone and all Somali Citizens living in Banadir Region will have a right to access the regional social services and participate fully in civil, economic, political affairs of the regional state without prejudice.

Assumed, though that the parliament decides to remain the National Capital in Hamar Region, we will gladly host as before and share the city with the federal government and its institutions and observe the principles of cooperative relationship with it and other regional states laid down in the constitution. Therefore, the federal government will develop the city’s status as a national capital and it will control the State House, Parliament, Residential Buildings for State Officials, Offices owned or occupied, International Airports, Seaports, Inter-State Highways, Federal Penitentiary, Armed Forces Camps and Installations, Foreign Missions and their Offices and Residences etc.


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