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Wrangles between the Federal Government of Somalia and the Federal Member States is detrimental to progress in Somalia

Council for the Co-operation of Federal Member States of Somalia at the Kismayo meeting

by Abdilatif Maalim
Friday, September 14, 2018


It has been a fateful week in Somali politics, one that could shape the Presidency of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo. Last weekend, the leaders of Somalia’s Federal Member States (FMS) suspended ties with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in what is seen by many as a significant blow to the already weak relationships between the two.  The Upper House boycotted the joint opening session of Parliament which was presided over by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo.


There are also talks of pending vote of no confidence motions against the President and the Prime Minister. The motive of this motion which is yet to be received by the leadership of Parliament is not yet known, but pundits say this could be efforts by the Presidents of the Federal Member States to turn the heat on Villa Somalia. The latest row between the leadership of the Federal Member States and the Federal Government of Somalia is a classic example of a power tussle between two layers of government that should be working seamlessly for a population that continues to suffer the excesses of the two. In Somalia, citizens hardly have access to basic services and the promise of the promulgation of the provisional constitution in 2012 seems to have evaporated.


In a strongly worded communique issued after a week-long deliberation in Kismayo, the interim seat of the Jubbaland State, the leaders of the Federal Member States accused Villa Somalia of interfering with the internal matter of the regional states, and for failing to honour past agreements it had signed with the Federal Member States. In a quick rejoinder, the Villa Somalia called for an urgent meeting of the National Security Council in Mogadishu to discuss among other things the security situation. In what has angered them even more, President Farmaajo even failed to mention the standoff with the regional states during his speech to MPs this week, at the opening ceremony of parliament.  In his speech, the President looked defiant and his call for a National Security Council meeting is seen by many as an effort to stamp his authority.


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The stalemate comes at a very critical time; a lot is at stake for the common man in Somalia. Somalia is a country recovering from decades-old conflict and this will be an obstacle for the wounds of yesteryears to heal, there can only be one winner in this case; it is the terrorists who relish the internal wrangles between the parties who should have instead taken the fight to them.  The wrangles will only see tight deadlines to be missed, a crucial example is the efforts to liberate the areas under the hands of the group. Also at stake is preparation for one man one vote election in the year 2020, which now looks impossible every passing day. 


The bone of contention is that, since he took office, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and his government have paid very little attention to the grievances of the Federal Member States, created its own cronies in most of the states who have made life difficult for the leaders of these administrations. With elections coming up in most of the Federal Member States, the leaders of the states are already facing stiff competition from candidates said to be sponsored by Villa Somalia.  As part of their efforts to take the battle close to Villa Somalia, the Federal Member States are also pushing for a vote of no confidence motion against the President and the Prime Minister.

The Upper House which represents the interest of the Federal Member States this week also waded into the debate, they have formed an ad hoc committee that will mediate between the two parties. But many consider that the Upper House is already partisan in the issue and seems to undermine Villa Somalia, most likely their efforts will not yield much fruits. The international community actors which have played a crucial role in the peace process in Somalia over the years are yet to comment. Their silence could be a wait and see approach.


Whichever side one may be on the divide, the wrangles between the two layers stand to scuttle the gains made over the years. There is no doubt if not handled well, these wrangles will spiral out of control and will jeopardize efforts been made to have Somalia reclaim its place amongst the community of nations.  It is important that both sides work hand in hand for the benefit of the Somali population.  A war of words and heated debate over the airwaves will only make a bad situation worse.  It is vital that the sides resolve their difference through dialogue and engage with each other, that will be in the interest of the Somali people.

The writer is a Strategic Communication Specialist based in Mogadishu. He can be reached on [email protected]

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