Somalia has long struggled with political instability and internal conflicts which has impeded its growth and development. There are various political stakeholders who play a significant role in supporting governance in Somalia including parliamentary representatives, executive officials, judicial officials and community leaders. These participate in supporting various governance systems including drafting and amendment of the constitution. This article sheds light on the roles of various political stakeholders in Somalia and highlights how some stakeholders like former presidents, former prime ministers, former ministers, and failed presidential candidates have overstepped their boundaries and made it impossible for effective governance in Somalia. These individuals, who are deemed politically unacceptable, hinder the progress of Somalia by seeking to influence amendments in the constitution and often operate in blatant violation of constitutional principles.
Stakeholders are Responsible for Amending the Somali Constitution
The Somali Constitution lays a foundation for legal and political framework and sets out the procedures and responsibilities for its amendment. The stakeholders are outlined in Article 132 of the constitution of Somalia. The Article defines who has the power to propose and enact amendments. Amendment of the Somali constitution can be done by:
- Federal Parliament, including both the Lower House and the Upper House of Parliament, which represent the people’s will and have the authority to propose and debate constitutional amendments.
- The Executive Branch which includes the President and the Council of Ministers may also have roles in the amendment process, either through proposing amendments or ratifying them after parliamentary approval.
Process and Structure for Constitutional Amendments in Somalia
The process for amending the Constitution of Somalia follows the following steps:
- Initiation of Amendment (Article 133) which is initiated by at least one-third of the members of either the House of the People or the Upper House.
- Review by the Oversight Committee (Article 133) which is done by Oversight Committee on the Review and Implementation of the Constitution.
- Debate and Approval in Parliament (Article 134) follows after the Federal Parliament debates the proposed amendment after the Oversight Committee’s review where a two-thirds majority in each house is required for approval.
- Presidential Assent (Article 134) which serves as a final check and balance in the amendment process.
- Public Referendum (Article 135) is done where certain amendments necessitate a public referendum.
- Constitutional Assemblies in Somalia are formed through clan leaders from across the country. Due to the security situation in the country and the war with Al-Shabaab, it is hard to conduct a referendum in Somalia at present and thus constitutional assemblies represent the entire population of Somali.
The Dichotomy of Progress and Influence
Though the former president, former prime ministers, former ministers and other political leaders can participate in the amendment of the Somali constitution, some of these stakeholders have overstepped their roles and negatively affected the political governance in Somalia. They have done this by:
- Disrupting Constitutional Amendments. Former presidents, ex-prime ministers, ministers, and failed presidential candidates have often sought to influence amendments to the Somali constitution with their personal agendas and vested interests, rather than a focus on the overall welfare of the nation.
- Unconstitutional conduct where former presidents, ex-prime ministers, ministers, and failed presidential candidates often engage in unconstitutional practices, violating the fundamental principles that underpin Somalia’s political structure.
- Negative influence of former leaders where former presidents and ministers in Somalia often continue to wield considerable influence even after their official terms have ended.
- Selfish intentions of constitutional amendments where attempts to amend the constitution by these stakeholders are sometimes driven by personal or group interests rather than national welfare.
Why former Presidents and other Political Leaders should not take the lead in Constitutional Amendment
Former president, former prime ministers, former ministers and other prominent political leaders should not be allowed to dictate the process of constitutional amendment in Somalia. This is because:
- Conflict of interest where former presidents and ministers may have personal or political interests that could influence their participation in constitutional amendments.
- Potential for abuse of power in which former leaders may still wield significant influence within political circles that can be used to exert pressure on the constitutional amendment process.
- Need for fresh perspectives where Constitutional amendments are often seen as an opportunity to bring in fresh ideas and perspectives.
- Deterioration of Public Trust and Perception in which inclusion of former leaders in the process may lead to skepticism among the public, especially if there is a perception that they are trying to amend the constitution for personal reasons.
Former president, former prime ministers, former ministers and other prominent political leaders should not be allowed to dictate the process of constitutional amendment in Somalia. Former presidents, former prime ministers and ministers may have personal or political interests that could influence their participation in constitutional amendments. Further, former leaders might seek to protect their legacies, political ideologies, or personal gains, potentially compromising the objectivity and fairness of the process. The detrimental influence of former presidents, former prime ministers, former ministers, and failed presidential candidates within the Somali political landscape is an obstacle that impedes progress and undermines the country’s political stability. Their disruptive involvement in constitutional amendments and unconstitutional conduct erodes democracy and hampers the development of a transparent and accountable political structure. It is imperative for Somalia to establish strong institutions, uphold the rule of law, and devise effective mechanisms to prevent the infiltration of unacceptable political stakeholders. Only through genuine political reform can Somalia move forward towards a brighter and more prosperous future.
Abdullahi M Hassan (Abdullahi Yabarow)