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The Speaker Of The Somali Federal Parliament Stalls Progress Towards Peace And Justice:By: Abdulkadir Khalif.

It is now seven (7) months since the last meeting of the Somali Federal Parliament, held in Nairobi Kenya. It was a chaotic meeting which was deliberately hijacked by non other than the speaker, who was very anxious to stop the passage of a bill that he personally did not like. It was an unfortunate moment for the fledgling Somali democracy which was painstakingly produced by a process that took a complete two years. It was a final fruitage of the efforts of Somalia’s tired people and its tolerant neighbors. It was at that time hoped that we have finally arrived and that once parliament swears allegiance to the Republic’s constitution, we will turn our attention from war and famine to peace and progress.

When at the prodding of our neighbors our Parliamentarians finally came home, it was business as usual. The Leaders who were negotiating peace in Nairobi left behind lieutenants who continued terrorizing the population and looting ordinary folks. While they were away in Nairobi, new warlords were born who filled the vacuum and even took over whole territories and established new fiefdoms. When the MPs came back home, they found well entrenched militia leaders who now control seaports and who built new airstrips. They found a well established drug cartel that turned whole plantations into lush green poppy fields. They found people masquerading as religious leaders complete with religious courts and religious militia who had made international connections with other outlaws in other parts of the world. In other words, the MPs found the political and military landscape totally changed. They came and saw new realities on the ground and had to take a decision whether to conform or confront. The choice was obvious.

But then they are now Ministers in a government and had to abide by the concept of collective responsibility. They can not do that without upsetting the newly powerful second-tier warlords. They had to find an excuse to stop the peace process and to actually reverse it. They had to find a scapegoat and fortunately for them found it in the “Charter”. They had to fabricate something against the President and the Prime Minister. They had to find some one with a status symbol to front for them. They found that in the person of the unsuspecting and naďve Speaker of the Federal Parliament. That was a godsend for them and an opportunity for the Shariff who may even become the President of Somalia one day. He is a very young man and with the Mogadishu warlords by his side who could stop him from becoming a President? After all President Abdullahi Yussuf is an old and ailing man who with an artificial organ is on borrowed time. The Somali Constitution says that in the event of the death or incapacitation of the President, the Speaker of The National Assembly shall act as President for a period of three (3) months until Parliament elects a new President. What politician wouldn’t be tempted to think big if he is put in the Shariff’s shoes?

But is the Speaker Mr. Shariff Hassan Aden acting on his misguided instincts or is he being used by others with bigger and better ambitions? Is he being used as a stepping stone to the Presidency by others who can not forgive the current President for undermining them before? Here I am thinking loud about the likes of Abdiqassim, Qanyare and Galayr. Do they see the Shariff as a means to their illicit goals? Are they hoping against hope that Abdullahi’s artificial organ will give way and that they will then have a second shot at the high office? Or are they actually not as powerful as we might think and that the likes of Inda Cadde are actually running the show with their drug and money laundering operations? Or are they marking time in order to amass as much wealth as they can before a real authority takes over? Either way, the Shariff is to blame and he will finally be the biggest loser.

The Somali Federal Charter has already been violated many times. The first one was when its promise as per Article 29, of allocating 12% of the seats of Parliament to women was ditched. Even the IGAD countries and both the AU and the UN ignored that violation in order to placate the warlords. The ensuring protests by women were drowned in the celebration for peace. Similarly, Article 11 (5) of the Federal Charter which says: “The Council of Ministers of the Transitional Federal Government shall within 90 days of assuming office propose to the President the names of persons to be appointed to an Independent Federal Constitution Commission to ensure that a Federation is achieved within the time set out under this Charter”, is in default. The Prime Minister can not get the Council of Ministers to meet and he is afraid to replace them for obvious reasons. Some of the so-called ministers have even refused to take the oath of office but still carry around and misuse the title. A good example of this group is Barre Hiiraale, who considers his tuff in Kismaayu to be more important than his responsibilities as a member of the Council of Ministers. He can not be fired because if that happens he will have a perfect excuse to run away with Kismaayu and cause more trouble. That is exactly what Xaabsade did when his portfolio was given to his cousin Kiishbuur. Indha Cadde on the other hand had to declare himself the lord of Lower Shabeelle; that evergreen piece of territory that has been identified by international drug lords as ideal for marijuana. He nominated a local as his deputy and even displayed him in public recently when the deputy announced that Indha Cadde’s administration is finally willing to share some drug money with the hapless residents of Marka.

But why can parliament not meet? The answer to this question goes back to its last session in Nairobi when it was debating the deployment of a peace-keeping mission from the IGAD countries. The Speaker of the House, with instigation by the enemies of peace was hell-bent in insuring that the bill was defeated, by rigging the votes if necessary. By the articles of that resolution, all front-line states were excluded from participating in that mission. OKAY, what about other countries from the Middle East or other African Countries? The opponents of peace would have nothing of that either. They were determined to stop the deployment of any force that would bring order to the country and create a functioning government. They have a spokesman in the person of non other than the Speaker of the National Assembly to articulate that position on the world stage.

The Shariff, unwittingly played that role against the advice of his constituents and in defiance of the vast majority of the Members of Parliament, not to mention the mainstream Somali population. In his recent tour of North America, the Speaker was a virtual prisoner of a handful of people who have been briefed to isolate him and manage his tour completely. This they did with unbelievable efficiency so much so that the Shariff could not even visit his family. When he stopped over in Canada, the Speaker was cornered by a handful of his constituents (Digil & Mirifle peoples) and he met with them under the watchful eyes of his managers. In that meeting he was given an earful and by the time he left North America, the Speaker of The Somali Federal Parliament knew that he has no backing from his own people. For precisely that reason, he refused to meet with other D & M. people in London. On returning to East Africa, he was lucky to find another opportunity to avoid traveling to Somalia when he was invited to attend a meeting in Sweden. That meeting is over now but the Speaker is still traveling around the world visiting other parliaments when his own is dysfunctional, thanks to him. Time is running out for the Speaker and his friends in Mogadishu are watching him with weary eyes. Meanwhile, he has been given notice by the Digil & Mirifle people that he has to report to the people’s court in Baydhaba without delay. An uncertain reception and future awaits him there.

But how should the country get out of this vicious circle? In the event of a deadlock like this, what does the constitution and the Federal Charter say is the way out? Is this a constitutional crises or just a confusion in which no body knows what to do? Is there really a dispute per se? Who is in violation of the charter or the constitution if any? What is the role of the Speaker of parliament and how should ministers relate to their prime minister, the person who hired them and who can fire them? Where and how can a parliament meet if the speaker and the president can not talk to each other? Does it matter where the president sets his office if he feels insecure in the official capital of the country? How can a speaker be relieved of his duties if he is unwilling or unable to do his duties?

These are pertinent questions that the Somali people should be asking themselves and whose answers will shade some light on the way forward. First, let us start with the duties of the speaker. In every parliament in the world including that of a totalitarian country, the speaker (or his deputies) is the chairman of all parliamentary sessions. He calls the house to order and creates an atmosphere where free debate can be held by all members. He is a referee and can not take sides in any deliberations. He does not table motions but gives opportunities to the members to do the same. After all the members have exhausted their opinions and if there is no unanimity, the speaker puts the contentious issue to a vote and the winner takes all. After that the bill passes on to other relative organs of government before it becomes law. The speaker can neither support nor oppose a bill before the house. He is absolutely neutral and must be seen to be so. Can the Speaker of the Transitional Federal Parliament of Somalia even remotely relate to these fundamental principles of his office? If you think he is, I beg to differ. If you agree that he isn’t, then you must also accept that he is in total violation of the Federal Charter.

Every member of the Somali Federal Parliament is elected or nominated by his sub sub sub-clan under the guidance of civil society and the clans’ respective Sultaans and Ugaases. After they are sworn in as members they have to pledge allegiance to the constitution. If some of them are appointed as ministers by the Prime Minister, they are sworn in as such and must take instructions from their boss. Article 3 (1) of the Federal Charter says: “The Parliament envisaged under article 28 above shall be selected by the sub sub sub-clan Somali Political Leaders invited to the consultation meetings in Nairobi as from 9th January 2004, comprising: Transitional National Government, National Salvation Council(NSC); Regional Administration; SRRC; G8 and must be endorsed by genuine traditional leaders”.

According to the above article 3(1) of the Federal Charter, all members of parliament are first and foremost subject to the endorsement of their various sub sub sub-clan leaders and that they can be removed from parliament by that procedure in the reverse. In other words, the likes of the speaker and other belligerent members of parliament can be removed from parliament at the stroke of a pen by their Ugaases. The Somali people should therefore ask those Ugaases to exercise their God-given authorities to remove those sons of theirs who have become a stumbling block to the peace process. Those Ugaases and clan leaders must be seen not to be supporting those belligerent members of parliament for if they do that, they will have to share in the responsibilities for stagnating the peace process. How much more can the Somali people ask from them?

At this point I have a word or two for the Prime Minister of Somalia Prof. Geedi.

When did you last call a cabinet meeting? How many of them showed up? What action did you take against all those who refused to attend the ministerial meetings and who therefore refuse to share in collective responsibility? Are you aware that some of your ministers have not yet been sworn in as such? How can they continue to be ministers when they are not even willing to take the oath of office? How long will it take you to make up your mind about replacing them? Why can’t you come to Mogadishu and call a ministerial meeting there and pre-empt the prophets of doom who insist that meetings can only be held in Mogadishu? You are an Abgaal and Mogadishu is your home. Are you afraid of coming home to Mogadishu? We expect you to call a ministerial meeting in Mogadishu and fire all those who refuse to attend it or who refuse to respect your authority or the principle of collective responsibility. If you can not do that, you have no business being a Prime Minister.

I also have a word or two for the Somali President Mr. Abdullahi Yussuf Ahmed.

Is Mogadishu more dangerous than Baghdad? Villa Somalia is controlled by your friend Mr. Hussein Aideed. Are you afraid that he might strangle you if you set foot in the official residence of the Somali Head of State? As a Muslim you should accept that you will die one day and that death will find you anywhere you are the day it is supposed to occur. Whether you are in Mogadishu or Jowhar will not make any difference in the number of years you will live. Your opponents are asking for something very basic…they are saying “come to Mogadishu” and they hope that you will refuse. Do not help them in their myopic agenda. Go to Mogadishu and we shall see if they will kill you. If that happens, you will die a hero and they will be pursued as villains by all the Somali people. Did you forget that Dr. Abdirashid Ali Sharmaarke was assassinated in his home region (yours too) where it was assumed he would be most safe? What makes you think that Jowhar or Gaalkacayo for that matter is safer for you than Mogadishu? Go to Mogadishu and let the warlords disintegrate. You are prolonging their illicit power and by extension therefore extending the suffering of the Somali people. You have always boasted that you are a fighter and a brave man. You have traveled many miles in that long struggle. Why are you afraid of covering the last 90 kilometers to Mogadishu when you have so much support? Qanyare and Abdiqassim are not from Mogadishu either. Nor is Indha Cadde from Marka. Hussein Aideed of Mudug is feeling at home in what is constitutionally your official residence. You don’t even have to come out of that building and you can bring as many Majeerteen guards as you want: every president will bring his cousins to guard him in State House any way. Let us here what Shariff Hassan and his manipulators will say when you do that. Let us see what other article in the Charter they will hang on to in order to stall the peace process and extend their looting period further.

I will now turn to a position which will be very unpopular amongst many of you.

In order to help you figure out why I am taking the position I am about to take, I will tell you a little about my background. I am a member of the Digil & Mirifle political block, one of the major groupings on which our fledgling democracy has been designed to stand. Unlike many other writers on this forum, I will not be ambiguous in my position nor shall I shy away from naming clans and persons and apportioning blame where needed. I can not afford to be vague or ambiguous because if I do that I will do a lot of disservice to my people. The Somali peace process is based on the 4.5 formula: which means it is based on clan groupings. If our constitution is going to be based on that why should I be shy about using that formula to fight for my rights? I am entitled to 22.22% of all things in Somalia, whether it is parliamentary seats or government or military posts. I am entitled to my own regional state government in all areas where I consider my natural habitat. I am entitled to self-rule and no other people or person can infringe on that right. In the event of a violation of those rights I expect all the Somali People and Governments at all levels to be on my side. Herein when I use the word “I”, I will be impersonating the Digil & Mirifle people.

As it stands now, I have got my fair share of parliamentary seats in the Somali Federal Parliament. I am as educated as any individual or group can be in Somalia today. I have land that God gave me and in which I expect to live in peace. I have a population that entitled me to the same status as the Dir, Hawiye or Darood peoples. I am a citizen of Somalia just as much as they are. But despite all these inalienable rights that Allah and the Constitution of my country gave me, I am under domination and occupation; not by Italy or Britain but Hawiye and Daarood. My land is being taken away from me by force. I am unable to take decisions that affect my life directly. I am being taxed without representation. I am being enslaved and treated as a beast of burden working in farms that have been forcibly taken away from me. My land is being turned into a new drug growing area in the Horn of Africa. Whole villages and towns have been destroyed in order to drive away my people. My elected representatives can not even visit their own constituencies and listen to the electorate. I am a prisoner in my own house. This is not a situation I will accept and not one I expect the Somali people to wish for me. I expect the Daarood people to look amongst themselves and find out which one among them is violating my rights. I am hoping that the Hawiye people will do the same. I do not have an army to liberate myself. I do not control my ports and airfields through which I could import arms to free myself. I am not naturally weak but I am more God-fearing than the others. I hope that I will not be pushed to a corner from where I will have no choice but to fight; and I am fast approaching that corner. Do not let me pick up a gun and fight. You can not dominate me forever. There is a Somali saying: “Waraaba daale dirir tiisaa loo tagaa”. For the time being, the only weapon in my possession and which I intend to use very effectively is the PEN and my computer.

Which political block does Indha Cadde belong to? Who does he take his orders from? He is sitting on me in Shabeelaha Hoose. That is one of the provinces which shall belong to my State. I want him to stop cutting wood and therefore creating a desert in my land. I want him to stop turning my banana plantations into poppy fields. I want him to stop taxing my people and let them run their own affairs. I want him to go back to his country and leave me alone.

Which political block does Barre Hiiraale identify with? What is he doing in Kedi and the Jubbas? Who did he leave Galgaduud and Cabuuduwaaq for? What was he doing in Ceelwaaq? Barre can not set his region aside for his brother and then come and take mine. He and Indha Cadde can not decide where to draw lines in my country. He can not divide my Southwest State into two regions and take one and give the other to his ally Indha Cadde. My Southwest State, which I intend to re-name Jubbaland soon will comprise of 6 regions whether Indha Cadde and Hiiraale like it or not. That State will be re-borne again sooner rather than later. Somalia will have 4 States (Jubbaland, Midland, Puntland and Somaliland). Jubbaland can not be divided up into two states. The Dir people will have a State called Somaliland; The Hawiye will have Midland; The Daarood will have Puntland and the Jareerweyne and Digil & Mirifle peoples will have Jubbaland. There will be minorities in each of these States and their rights will be protected under the constitutions of the states. They will have representatives in each State’s legislature proportional to their population. There will be no second Hawiye or second Darood State in the Union. This fact better be posted in every body’s mind, and the sooner, the better.

I will let all Somali peoples to settle and trade in my State. I will invite all individuals to associate and move freely in my State. But I will not let anybody else to be lord over me in my own country. As you all know the biggest violators of my rights are the Marexaan people and the Ceyr branch of the Habar Gidir. I want Barre Hiiraale and Indha Cadde to stop terrorizing my people and go back to their own regions. I expect the federal Government of Somalia and all peace loving Somalis to put pressure on these individuals and clans to give me back my freedom. It should be known that nobody shall be free unless and until all of us are free. Nobody shall enjoy peace until we are all free. If you deny me freedom today, you will loose yours tomorrow. I hereby ask the Federal Government of Somalia to go ahead and close the Marka and Baraawe ports the way they have closed the illegal airstrips and I challenge them to follow through with that order. I demand from the Federal Government to launch a protest with the countries of the Middle East who are encouraging the process of desertification of my country by buying illegally burned charcoal.

Abdulkadir Khalif   

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