The Garowe Agreement and the Smallness of our Leaders: The Politics of Subtraction
Yesterday, the Second of May, 2015, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Puntland President Abdiwali Gaas signed a political agreement in Garowe, Puntland that severely tasks the mind and whose consequences have far reaching political as well as constitutional ramifications. This is what you get when you have timid leaders with small souls, small hearts, small brains and small balls. These leaders have shamelessly signed this agreement which contains provisions that are illegal, unconstitutional, un-Somali and also unconscionable. Article 4 (c) of the agreement declares that no Somali residents of Puntltand can take part in the on-going Cadaado conference on the formation of the Central Somalia State; in other words this agreement that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud committed his signature to prohibits Somali citizens from exercising their fundamental rights to freedom of assembly and also freedom of mobility.
The fundamental inalienable rights of Somali citizens are enshrined in Chapter Two of the Provisional Constitution of Somalia, adopted on August 1, 2012 and which is the legal foundation under which the President was elected.
Article 16 of the Constitution guarantees all Somali citizens the freedom of assembly and affirms that the state cannot force citizens to associate or disassociate whom the government desires or does not desire. Furthermore, Article 21 of the constitution guarantees all Somali citizens the freedom to move, visit, leave or reside in any city, town, village or hamlet anywhere in Somalia.
The agreement that the president signed clearly constitutes a colossal violation of the constitution and may trigger a credible cause for his impeachment. The president already stands accused of usurping the powers of every prime minister under his appointment, – powers that are invested with the council of Ministers under Article 97 of the constitution-, as he is also faulted with interfering with the independence of the judiciary. His signature on this agreement would serve as the straw that broke the camels back, and it should signal to the Somali public that this president has a grave propensity for bending the rules, and in this case he has stomped on the basic law of the country, the constitution, notwithstanding the fact that he is duty bound to be the guardian of the constitution as reflected in Article 87(1)(c) of the constitution.
Now, what is the purpose of the impugned provision of this agreement? It is a provision that President Abdiwali Gaas of puntland has inserted in the framework of the agreement in order to placate his Puntland constituency and play to the political gallery at home. It is politics as its raw and it is understandable but both His Excellency Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and His Excellency Abdiwali Gaas have demonstrated that they have no qualms about appealing to the basic primordial instincts of a traumatized and emotional public in order to cynically gain personal political gains; in the case of Mr. Gaas, to win the support of the man in the street in Puntland, and in the case of HSM, to obtain consent for an extension of his term from Puntland and the other emerging administrations, a pipe dream. Yet, this calculation, while grossly loopy, also conveniently discounts the reality surrounding how the federation process should be legally undertaken within the ambit of the constitution.
Niether the president nor the leaders of the regional administrations have any primary role in the state formation process and the consequent formations of the federal units under the constitution. Indeed, under Article 49 and 111E of the constitution, the federation process and the creation of federal units is within the purview of the Federal Parliament of Somalia and the Independent Boundaries and Federations Commission, and no where in these articles is it proscribed a role for the president and the leaders of the regional administrations. More specifically, Article 111E(5) is very clear as to which institution is tasked with the determination of the boundaries of the potential federal units. It emphatically states that “the final determination of the boundaries of the Federal Member states shall be made by the Federal Parliament and shall be based on the recommendations of the Boundaries and the Federations Commission.”
This ill thought out agreement also raises broader philosophical principles about peace, reconciliation and the sanctity of Somali citizenship. The very essence of the Constitution making process was predicated on the utility of the constitutional text and processes as a conflict resolution tool whose ultimate expected outcome would be durable and sustainable peace among Somali communities. It is therefore utter madness for our leaders to partition Mudug communities along clan lines. When you divide communities along clan or other ascribed identities, you essentially set in place institutionalized hostility, when what the Galkayo conundrum requires is genuine reconciliation and the fostering of a culture of cooperative co-existence. But given the fact that we have small leaders in this case-with small souls, small hearts and small balls-our politics has been reduced to a warped sense of imagination.
This agreement is illegal and should not only be damned but also ignored. The correct platform for determining the boundary of a future Central Somalia state is the Boundaries and Federations Commission, which ought to make an informed and expert recommendation to the Federal parliament, and it is the Federal Parliament of Somalia that is constitutionally tasked to make the final determination. As such, both the president of Puntland and the President of Somalia have exceeded their authority in entering into this illegal agreement.