is a Muslim marriage and matrimonials site that assists people to find a Muslim partner for friendship or marriage. You can use our site to meet Muslim singles , Muslim ladies seeking marriage, Muslim chat, Muslim friends or Muslim penpals .: Islam Women For Dating Islam singles seek love, dating and marriage. Join free today.:
Somali News

Opinion: In search of a Somali constitution

Wednesday 26 January 2011 SMC

The draft constitution could contribute to the Balkanisation of Somalia [EPA]

The debate over constitution-making in Somalia has moved to centre-stage and the international community is in the driver's seat.

But, its approach is simplistic, unfeasible and dangerous. The proposed draft constitution will not only fail to combat Somalia's conflicts, but will, rather, contribute to the Balkanisation of the country.

A simplistic approach

The international community's approach has been based on the groundless assumption that Somalia does not already have a constitution. 

But Somalia does have a legitimate, balanced, democratic and Somali-owned constitution, which was drafted in 1960 and ratified through a referendum in 1961. Moreover, this constitution is not identified with any of the country's groups.

The international community, however, is reluctant to support the 1960 constitution for two reasons.

Firstly, some domestic actors have wrongly attributed the dictatorial practices of the military regime to the unitary nature of the Somali state. This fallacious logic asserts that the 1960 constitution was a unitary state system and that it is because of that system that the ruling elite abused its power. In order to avoid a potential repeat of this abuse, some Somalis have called for a federal system.

But this is a flawed diagnosis. There is nothing wrong with the unitary state system. In fact, most of the world's democracies have a unitary state system.

Some also add the criticism that a clan-based power-sharing formula is missing from the 1960 constitution. 

Secondly, Somalia's neighbours believe that the 1960 constitution is irredentist in nature since it was created in the heydays of Somali nationalism. Article 6(4), which seeks the re-unification of Somalia through peaceful and legal means, is their main concern and the current draft constitution has omitted all irredentist articles and clauses.

Fortunately, both concerns can be easily addressed.

Regarding the first criticism, the 1960 constitution provides mechanisms that mandate decentralisation if the goal is to empower local communities. Moreover, any legitimate concerns that Somali groups have can - and must - be easily accommodated.

Regarding concerns about the irredentist elements of the 1960 constitution, I think Somalis must confront these issues head on through a public debate; simply omitting them from the draft constitution is not appropriate. If stakeholders debate these issues, as sensitive as they are, a pragmatic and win-win solution can be reached.

An unfeasible project

Security issues make it unfeasible to ratify the draft constitution at this time. Knowing this fact very well, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, the former special envoy of the secretary-general of the United Nations, proposed an alternative way of ratifying the draft constitution. Comparing the constitution to the European Union charter, which was ratified by the legislatures of 27 countries, he recommended that Somalia's 550-member parliament sign off on it.

But this suggestion has its shortcomings.

Firstly, according to the Transitional Federal Charter of the Somali Republic (TFC), which through its 'immutable principles' calls for the ratification of the constitution through a referendum, this would be illegal.

Secondly, unlike in EU states, Somalia's parliamentarians are not elected and they cannot be a substitute for the will of the Somali people.

Finally, the international community is contradicting itself. It argues that the government cannot amend or change the content of the draft constitution. Yet, it wants the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) to ratify the draft constitution - a contradiction in terms. 

Dangerous prescriptions

The draft constitution is dangerous as it prescribes unsustainable structures that could lead to the dismemberment of the country.

Some major issues are predetermined without opening them to public debate. For instance, a federation has been prescribed even though it is not appropriate in the Somali context.

Only 12 per cent, or 24 countries, of world states are federal states. Only three of these countries are African: Nigeria, Ethiopia and South Africa. Most of the 24 countries are large, geographically complicated and have diverse populations.

Somalia lacks the characteristics of federal states - it is small and its people are largely homogeneous. It is also poor and cannot afford to pay for one level of government, let alone multiple levels of government. The necessary human resources to serve three levels of government are lacking and there are no agreed upon regions that can federate.

Most importantly of all, the primary goal is to stabilise Somalia, but prescribing a federal system for Somalia will compromise stability by creating unnecessary competition and thus adding fuel to the fire.

If the current thinking of the international community is taken to its logical conclusion, many clan-based regions will be created, thus re-enforcing tribalism and sub-clan politics and undermining state-building efforts. Many communities, particularly unarmed clans and minority groups will experience discrimination if a federal system is adopted.

That said, some form of decentralisation is needed. But, I believe federation is unnecessary and it is context-inappropriate. Moreover, there are alternative ways of instituting decentralisation. 

Wrong legislative institutions

The draft constitution also proposes symmetrical bicameral institutions - two houses that have the same powers to legislate. Such an arrangement, however, constitutes a duplication of services as just one house would be sufficient to do the job.

But, the more problematic aspect of this is that one chamber will represent undefined regional states and members of that chamber will be selected by legislatures of those unknown regions. Such a structure does not make sense and would be impossible to implement.

A bicameral system is possible, but may not be desirable.

As in some other African states, the second chamber could represent clans. Ghana and Botswana, two of the most stable countries in Africa, have an institutionalised tribal system and have created a House of Chiefs.

But a closer and more familiar example is Somaliland, which also has a bicameral system where one chamber represents the people and the second represents clans. Somaliland's Guurti or clan elders played a significant role in pacifying the region and since its bicameral system has been successful, there is a case to be made for Somalia replicating this.

A win-win solution

The president, the new cabinet and the parliament of the TFG must take the lead and propose reverting to the 1960 constitution.

With this, it must address the major concerns voiced by both domestic and external actors, and through this process, the Somali people may be able to reclaim their lost agency.

If the TFG is serious, it can present a comprehensive strategy that addresses decentralisation, a clan-based power-sharing formula and issues related to the irredentist nature of the 1960 constitution in less than a month. 

The sitting parliament can then make the necessary adjustments to the document and a permanent government may result from this exercise.

For the international community, besides the difficulty of justifying the millions of dollars spent on the draft constitution, the 1960 constitution offers all of the characteristics it favours: It is a democratic, legitimate and Somali-owned document.

There is no need to go through with a referendum at this time. Many Somalis, particularly political stakeholders, are familiar with the constitution since it has been used for nine years.

Therefore, there is no reason for the international community to triangulate or impose unworkable arrangements on the Somali people.

This is a win-win solution and the international community must support it.

Afyare Elmi teaches international politics at the International Affairs Department of Qatar University and is the author of 'Understanding the Somalia Conflagration: Identity, Political Islam and Peacebuilding'.

The views expressed in this article are the author's own and do not necessarily reflect Al Jazeera's editorial policy.

Source: Al Jazeera

Somaliweyn Media Center (SMC)

Members Photos Advertisement

News From Somalia
Today's New 24 Janaury-2011
Nine children die another serious condition of starvation in Somalia (Read more) 24-Jan-2011

Un calls on international community to step up support as somalia marks 20 years of conflict (Read more) 24-Jan-2011

Today's New 23 Janaury-2011
Puntland Minister Commends S. Korea and Malaysia Navy Raids on Pirates (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Somali Community
in Germany celebrates return of the Somali embassy in Germany (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Uganda and South Africa taking meeting About the situation of Somalia (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Danish money for Somaliland pirate prison (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Journalist sentenced to 3 years in prison and a fine in Somaliland (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

KENYA: Ifo II refugee camp lies empty whilst tens of thousands of Somali refugees (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia 13 Jan 2011 (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin 14-21 January 2011 (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Naked Aggression on Somaliland By what saw call Somalia P.M.faragaajo (Read more) 23-Jan-2011

Today's New 22 Janaury-2011

New Internet-Based Money Transfer Service for Zimbabwe & Zambia (Read more) 22-Jan-2011

Somalia Prime Minister’s speech - the University of Rome 3 (Read more) 21-Jan-2011

Today's New 21 Janaury-2011

Press release: Somalia Prime Minister meets the Prime Minister of Italy (Read more) 21-Jan-2011

Somalia: Italy’s new peacemaking efforts : Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi Bilateral Meeting with Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (Read more) 21-Jan-2011

Somali government named new ambassador to Sudan (Read more) 21-Jan-2011

Somaliland: If Eritrea & South Sudan Could Gain Sovereignty, So Could Somaliland (Read more) 21-Jan-2011

Today's New 20 Janaury-2011
Two soldiers were killed another wounded in central Somalia clash (Read more) 20-Jan-2011

Somali FM strongly denounces Al-Shabab (Read more) 20-Jan-2011

Today's New 19 Janaury-2011

Somali PM due to open talks with Puntland state authority (Read more) 19-Jan-2011

Somali MPs engaged in realising detained Somalis in Mombasa (Read more) 19-Jan-2011

Italian Foreign Minister Frattini's meeting with Somali Prime Minister confirmed (Read more) 19-Jan-2011

Today's New 18 Janaury-2011
Kampala: 4 children demised in a Fire in Kampala (Read more) 18-Jan-2011

Somali President Attends Inauguration Ceremony for the Training of 500 Somali Police Recruits in Djibouti (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Today's New 17 Janaury-2011
A famous Somali tycoon wanted, images depicted on International Airports (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Somali legislators’ inquiry different government institutions (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Somali leader returns home to WNY : Urges world action against terrorism (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Somalis in Europe fastened their belts to Help fellow Somalis back home (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

President Shariff attends Police training opening ceremony (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

President Geele of Djibouti officially accepts credentials from new Somali Ambassador (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Gal-Mudug state strongly denounce Humanitarian agency (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Somali pirates seize Greek-owned ship, release another (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

The 2nd annual Conference on peaceful co-existence, dialogue and combating radicalization (Read more) 17-Jan-2011

Today's New 17 Janaury-2011
Puntland’s New Position Towards the TFG of Somalia (Read more) 16-Jan-2011

Emergency Alarming Situation Report of Upper Bokool Region of Somalia (Read more) 16-Jan-2011

Military court passes execution on 3 government soldiers (Read more) 15-Jan-2011

Ten Al-Shabab fighters apprehended at Burco town in Somaliland (Read more) 15-Jan-2011

Fear for Kidnapped Journalist’ Life (Read more) 15-Jan-2011

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia 13 Jan 2011 (Read more) 15-Jan-2011

New Global Fund grant helps refocus support on HIV fight (Read more) 15-Jan-2011

Puntland’s Anti-piracy Forces Smokescreen for Hunting Oil & Minerals Unlawfully (guji-riix)

Prime Minister's Speech to the UN Security Counci
(Read more)
Security Council Media Stakeout: Farmajo

The PM had meetings with UN Officials in New York (Read more) 14-Jan-2011
Today's New 14 Janaury-2011
Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin 7-14 January 2011 (Read more) 14-Jan-2011

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia 10 Jan 2011 (Read more) 12-Jan-2011

Somalia Government reunites child soldiers with their families (Read more) 12-Jan-2011

الحكومة الصومالية تعيد أطفالا مجندين الي عائلاتهم
(Read more) 12-Jan-2011

Médecins Sans Frontières (MSF) calls for medical staff's freedom of movement to be respected (Read more) 11-Jan-2011

News From Somalia
Today's New 10 Janaury-2011
Speech by His Excellency, Dr. Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud (Farole), the President of Puntland: (Read more) 10-Jan-2011

SAACID’s hygiene campaign going well in Banadir region (Read more) 10-Jan-2011

Accusation towards the International Organizations and NGOs that operates in Somalia  (Read more) 10-Jan-2011

Today's New 7 Janaury-2011
For Immediate Release
UN calls for humanitarian access as drought hits Somalia (Read more) 7-Jan-2011

Somali Government to fight against corruption (Read more) 7-Jan-2011

Weekly Humanitarian Bulletin #1, 31 December 2010-7 January 2011 (Read more) 7-Jan-2011

NUSOJ releases Annual Report on State of Freedom of the Press in Somalia (Read more) 7-Jan-2011

Saracen scandal exposed TFG’s hypocrisy and incompetence (Read more) 7-Jan-2011

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden and the Indian ocean (ecoterra - 06. January 2011) (Read more) 7-Jan-2011

الحكومة الصومالية تطلق برنامجا لمكافحة الفساد
(Read more) 7-Jan-2011

Today's New 5 Janaury-2011
UN Envoy for Somali lands Mogadishu in a short trip (Read more) 5-Jan-2011

Debunking Common Fallacies about Who Abandoned Somali Unity (Read more) 5-Jan-2011

80 African migrants are missed in Yemeni coast (Read more) 5-Jan-2011
Today's New 3 Janaury-2011
SOCHRO- Call upon UN-Agencies, Donor Countries, International Charitable Organization and Somali Diaspora  (Read more) 3-Jan-2011

 قراصنة صوماليون يستولون على سفينة صيد موزامبيقية  اسماعيل حلنى  
(Read more) 3-Jan-2011

SSC: past founders and present advocates of the Somali nation (Read more) 2-Jan-2011

Puntland is Deeply Concerned About Somaliland’s Growing Ties to Al Shabaab (Read more) 2-Jan-2011

Somalia Prime Minister congratulates Banadir for its championship in the Inter-region Cup (Read more) 2-Jan-2011

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia 01 Jan 2011 (Read more) 1-Jan-2011

Midaynta Community Services (Read more) 1-Jan-2011

Somali Brave Journalists Need Recognition and Support (Read more) 1-Jan-2011

Puntland Court Releases Reporter after 6 months in Jail (Read more) 1-Jan-2011

Press Release:
AMISOM condemns attack on civilians (Read more) 30-Dec-2010

Today's New 30 December-2010
Abdourahman Boreh to run for presidency in Djibouti (Read more) 30-Dec-2010

Somalia Current Situation (Read more) 30-Dec-2010

From sovereignty to uncertainty! The worst illiterates’ choice (Read more) 30-Dec-2010

Petition to Remove Corrupt Minister of Information, Post and Telecom Abdul Kareem Jama, Finance Minister Halane, and the parliament Warlord Mr. Furux (Read more) 29-Dec-2010

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden  and the Indian ocean  (ecoterra - 27. December 2010) (Read more) 28-Dec-2010

Press release 55: SARACEN International (Read more) 27-Dec-2010

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden  and the Indian ocean  (ecoterra - 25. December 2010) (Read more) 25-Dec-2010

Dutch arrest 12 on suspicion of terrorism (Read more) 25-Dec-2010

Presents The
Australian Somali Football Championships 2010 (Read more) 25-Dec-2010

Today's New 24 December-2010
Somali militants announce merger, threaten attacks (Read more) 24-Dec-2010

Saudi Arabia: Stop Deporting Somalis to Mogadishu (Read more) 24-Dec-2010

Saracen international in Somalia what is next?  By  Said Dualeh (Read more) 24-Dec-2010

Evaluation and advices to the Somali social media sites (Read more) 24-Dec-2010

Mouvement pour le Renouveau démocratique et le Développement (MRD) (Read more) 24-Dec-2010

Today's New 23 December-2010

SOMALIA: All to play for in unifying football tournament (Read more) 23-Dec-2010

Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed .Al Shabaab have betrayed Islam (Read more) 22-Dec-2010

SAACID Organisation carrying out hygiene campaign in 11 districts in Mogadishu (Read more) 22-Dec-2010

Today's New 21 December-2010
AMISOM repairs damaged Shabelle radio perimeter wall (Read more) 21-Dec-2010

Organization of the islamic conference and WFP agree to work together in Somalia (Read more) 21-Dec-2010

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden  and the Indian ocean (ecoterra - 20. December 2010)  (Read more) 21-Dec-2010

Somaliland Föreningen – vinnare av Malmö Stads Integrationspris! (Read more) 21-Dec-2010

Integrationsexpert som vill inspirera YASSIN MAHI: ”Vi är en del av Sverige” (Read more) 20-Dec-2010

Today's New 17 December-2010
Amisom rejects accusations of shelling Bakara market (Read more) 17-Dec-2010

More needs to be done to prevent child deaths in Somalia (Read more) 17-Dec-2010

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden  and the Indian ocean  (ecoterra - 17. December 2010)  (Read more) 16-Dec-2010

Today's New 16 December-2010
Death of gravely ill Somalia (Read more) 16-Dec-2010

Somali-American on Terror Watch List Slips Back to U.S (Read more) 16-Dec-2010

Migrants and Asylum Seekers Tortured, Mistreated (Read more) 16-Dec-2010

NUSOJ annual report focuses on journalists’ precarious working conditions (Read more) 16-Dec-2010

Ecoterra: Status of seized vessels and crews in Somalia, the Gulf of Aden  and the Indian ocean  (ecoterra - 15. December 2010)  (Read more) 16-Dec-2010

Today's New 14 December-2010
Daybreak battle in the Somali capital Mogadishu (Read more) 14-Dec-2010

Al-Shabab steadily getting rid of Hizbul-Islam (Read more) 14-Dec-2010

President of Puntland Meets TFG Prime Minister in Djibouti i (Read more) 14-Dec-2010

PM Farmajo of Somalia in Djibouti (Read more) 13-Dec-2010

Somaliweyn Media Center (SMC)