Somalia’s Leaders Loggerheads

By Mohamed Africa - Once again, Somalia is in deep leadership rift, persistent practice and popular political culture in Mogadishu, 7th of its kind since 2000. Political harmony in post transition government has come to end behind the growing president-prime minister loggerheads.
Article Keydmedia Online
Somalia’s Leaders Loggerheads

Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, was unable to deliver his promises on the pledge to prevent the leadership division within the government, a common setback that hampered past transitional authorities.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdoon “Saaid” came to politics with the approval of Mr. Mohamud, who recognized him from outstanding candidates according to criteria based on mode of operation.  He formed a slim cabinet mainly Islamists and Diaspora.  Despite the fact that quite number of clans and politicians strongly opposed the leaner council, accusing they have been excluded, it has been endorsed by the parliament of what believed to be a wave of bribe and promises.

During Prime Minister Saaid tenure in office, authorities and responsibilities of the executive were found quite flummoxed. The president conveniently ignores complete separation of power as per constitution. Office of the President has been overlapping governmental works and hemorrhaging of ministers from the cabinet. Typically that has made the statehouse hub of the power, halting checks and balances of the government system.

Mr. Saaid was accused had been incompetent to his office lacking experience, efficiency and leadership quality. He failed to fully exercise of his duties as per constitution, or gain home support. He was also viewed as follower to president distant from position of authorities and decision making that made him less representative.  

So far, the 1st year elapsed and very little progress has been made in improving security, political outreach, institutional and economic reforms. Somali Federal Government has been at critical debacle over the past six months mainly scandals of large scale corruption and growing opposition from various clans and political functions across the country.

Ms. Yusra Abrar, former Central Bank Governor sudden resignation of about a month obviously reveals the dirty job of Villa Somalia. The public and international community seriously concern the degree of corruption and misappropriation of public funds. The president was unable to live up to his commitment to tackle corruption and act as changing agent to safeguard the assets of the nation.  

Is it constitutional conflict or political dispute?

Under the constitution, the president serves as Head of State and Commander in Chief of Armed Forces with limited role in the running of the government.  The Prime Minister as Head of the Government holds the highest executive authority and primary responsibility of governmental function.

President Mohamud, sees himself as the sole elected executive that nominated the prime minister, so he can either endorse or dismiss him, if he thinks that is necessary. Quite contrary, the president can neither dismiss nor force resignation of prime minister. Indeed the parliament can only dissolve the government, if it’s failed to obtain vote of confidence on simple majority (50%+1), thus, the final say depends on the legislators.

President Mohamud has twisted Mr. Saaid round his finger to include prominent individuals of Damuljadiid, an inner circle Islamists associated with the president, to the proposed cabinet reshuffle. However, Mr. Saaid refused on the ground, that they’re disrupting the executive plans.

On this point, obviously, there is a constitutional confusion over authorities. As reported president demanded the prime minister resignation because of his hesitation to obey the political wills of the president that actually seems quite political dispute rather than constitutional conflict.

Can Mr. Said Survive?

Majority of his cabinet pushing him to step down and some threatened to resign, if Mr. Saaid decided a political suicide to fight with the president. Last couple cabinet meetings have been held with narrow quorum, as some council members allied with the president boycotted to participate.

Nevertheless, the Federal parliament split into supporters of the president and those backing the prime minister which seems violating the procedure of the house and raising doubts over the integrity of the legislators. Corrupted motion of no-confidence vote against Prime Minister Saaid has been submitted by 2/3 majority of the MPs on Thursday.

If the parliament took a neutral and fair position on this matter and manage to find a final legitimate solution on the case without external intervention, it will be political momentum that Somalia sized at critical deadlock.
Regarding the current context, Mr. Saaid has zero chance to survive this time before the legislators or within the executive body, as he lacking his clan backing and external political and financial support. Many analysts assume he will either leave office compelled or other way round.

Next Course of Action

It will be quite difficult to settle a functioning government until early next year as tough time awaiting the president to think twice the traits and behavior of the incoming prime minister.  Tasks ahead need space of time including appointing and endorsing the right council members.

It seems Damuljadid, an inner circle religious group associated with the president, is supporting a bid to nominate Dr. Mohamed Shiikh Ali “Doodisho”, a fellow soft Islamist, who shares religious ideology and political vision with the president and enjoying unique traits that is acceptable.

There is growing fear that islamist is struggling to dominate the power, which is likely to turn the situation from bad to worse. Failure to form a diverse and inclusive government based on equal clan power sharing and regional balance believed driven Somalia on the brink to fall.

On the other hand, if the president nominate a competent and qualified northerner prime minister that should only pledge to unity of what known to be Somali Republic and give Mohamud’s government a fresh start.

Mohamed Abdulrahman Ibrahim (Mohamed Africa) is political analyst and former diplomat. He worked on diplomatic capacity of Somali Permanent Mission of AU & UNECA. He poses significant specialist knowledge of the political and economic context of the region and the continent.

Article 21 May 2021 10:14

I read your article on Foreign Policy with keen eyes and interest. While whining from public officials does not deserve response from any sensible citizen of the Republic of Somalia, I felt compelled to counter false narrative with more objective analysis.