After many years of being called a fail state, collapse and lawlessness, Somalia is about to recover from the hopeless and the painful moments it had gone through. However, the process of nation building and making up a legitimate government is challenged, weakened and sometimes threatened by the struggle between President and the Prime Minster, who both wants to have the power to direct or influence the behaviour of other or the course of the events in the Somali politics. Here are the questions that many Somali citizens raised these days: are we under Presidential System? Or are we under Parliamentarian System? Or Are we a Semi-Presidential System? What are these anyway; which system would be beneficiary for the people of Somalia. The other questions that many Somalis raised and confused with are: System of Centralized Government or unitary state, and the system of Confederation or Federal Government? What I, and many of my colleagues don’t understand, are the questions I mentioned in the above. I would first and foremost began and try to explain the difference between the Presidential, Parliamentarian, and Semi-presidential systems. I would also touch their advantages and disadvantages; and the system that I would recommend to our country. In addition, I would also explain in short about Unitary and Federal Government before I come to my suggestions and conclusions as well.
Presidential system: voters elect the legislature and the Chief Executive who is part of the Executive Branch. The legislature and the Executive are independently and coequal. The presidential system divides power. Examples are United States of America. Also, there are three types of presidential powers; formal powers, informal powers and partisan powers. Formal Powers are powers possessed by a political actor, such as a chief executive, as a function of their constitutional or legal position, Veto, Dissolution of legislature (calling new elections), Decrees and executive orders, State of emergency declarations, Vote of no confidence (power of legislature). Informal Powers are powers possessed by an office holder that are not “official” but rather based on custom, convention, or other sources of influence, Includes chance to set agenda, Patronage can be an informal power, Use of government favors, typically in the form of employment, to garner political support. Partisan Powers are powers held by a government official by virtue of the official’s leverage or power over members of a political party, Executives sometimes can control legislatures through control of career paths.
Parliamentary system: The Parliamentary Relationship, voters elect the legislature and the Chief Executive is drawn from the legislature. The Executive power is in the cabinet and cabinet power only as long as retains “confidence” (commands a majority of votes), cabinet members remain in parliament and Prime Minister can dissolve parliament; Parliament is a forum for public debate, government policies are scrutinized in advance of becoming policies, monitors the administration of policies, insures accountability via question time, and enhances transparency by exposing the policy process and testing ground for leadership. There is NO single person who monopolizes power in a parliamentary system. Parliamentary system unifies power. Example is United Kingdom.
Semi-presidential system: President is directly elected by the people. He appoints the prime minister or the cabinet; example is France.
In a unitary government, the central government possesses much authority and decision-making power. In a federal government, power is split between a central government authority and its constituent states.
Well, if you now understand the difference between these systems, which system would you think our country follows? The answer is not clear, and there is an ambiguity whether Somalia is under that or this. In fact, we are in a democratic transition and until we reach in such areas of social, political and economic freedom policy we are less likely to reach into a democratic consolidation. Moreover, our argument will not be understood until we come to the evidence in a logical form and in support not to our leaders but to that of our claim and to our constitution. President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has come to power in 2012, with six pillars that he hoped to fulfill it; well, the question is how he is going to fulfill it if he does not have the executive power to do his job. Or if I put in in another way, is the president a symbolic and ceremonial, head of state like that of Ethiopia, India, or the Queen of United Kingdom?. On the other hand, why our constitution does not make clear the power sharing or division of powers; is our politics consensus (Consociational democracy) and power sharing like that of Belgium and Switzerland or even Lebanon. How come the president appoints a prime minister that he cannot fire? In my understanding of politics is that if I can hire you, then I must be able to fire you. If not, then he should be directly elected by the members of parliament. Also, president on his first selection to Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon (Said) has promised to allow him run bureaucratic organization and not to disagree with his prime minister, and mentioned that the government’s rule is a rightful and that he will respect his government. Year later, the disagreement came and suddenly the prime minster was fired, not through president’s office who appointed him, but through a corrupted parliament. Another appointment came; this time former expatriate to Canada and an educated and well respected man who once again fired after he disagreed with the boss who hired him. Well, where is the future of our country is heading to? No politics, no power capacity, no state that has authority, legitimacy, sovereignty and rule of law. Are we again missing a good leadership who has the quality and capacity to govern us? Don’t our people have a written constitution or charters that can establish us the basis of political system and the basis of division of powers? Or constitution doesn’t have supreme laws and fundamental? In my opinion our dealers are well above the average; however, our constitution needs to be amended by the respected and decent Somali experts and scholars who are well educated in terms of our culture, religion and civil societies.
Unitary state (examples): A unitary system of government, or unitary state, is a sovereign state governed as a single entity. The central government is supreme, and the administrative divisions exercise only powers that the central government has delegated to them. For example, U.K., France, and Iran; Federal state (examples): A federation also known as a federal state is a political entity characterized by a union of partially self-governing states or regions under a central (federal) government; for example, U.S., Germany, India, and Brazil. In my opinion, the only system that Somali people can survive with is the unitary state where all powers of government is exercised by the central government and of course through the process of democratic and direct elections. The reason I said this, is that the people of Somalia are hardly divided into a communal groups, and are not also divided into vertical lines and ethnic, religion and race groups. In fact, they are in 100 percent come from one race, religion and ethnic group. Furthermore, our people need to understand our unity, equality, recognition, identity, state capacity, minority, women and children rights. On the other hand, according to my opinion, federalism or federal government will only bring us more fragmentation, misrecognition, non-recognition, inequality, oppression, poverty, coercion, hegemony and conflicts.
If we do not amend our constitution today rather than tomorrow and do not put it forward for a referendum for a popular vote, our future will be uncertainty, and there will be the possibility of losing more dignity, representation and democratic process; and will move into one party state, autocracy, military government or even totalitarianism.
Author: Hussein Hassan Haji Ahmed
Bachelor of Arts in Political Science