Can Federalism be Panacea for all Grievances among Somalis?

As promulgated in the Provisional Constitution “Somalia is a federal, sovereign and democratic republic founded on inclusive representation of the people,

A multiparty system and social justice” which means each and every one of the community must engage and participate the national interest and feel ownership. Reflecting with this principle of all inclusiveness through representation, Somalia has so far five regional states namely: Puntland, Jubbaland, Southwest, Galmudug and Hirshabelle.

After the collapse of the Central government early 1991 Somalia faced so many conflicts and chaos which affected all the people and led to fled many people from the country including the capital city of Mogadishu , and there are a long standing grievances among the people for sack of the war and conflict which was active more than two decades.

Then Somalia took the federal system in 2004 so as to solve all the conflicts and grievances among the society, but the question is, can federalism be tool for conflict resolution and brings stability? After establishing the regional states, then automatically escalated a new conflict between the clans for sack of contesting the power, dominance and the resources as longest there is no past experiences related to the federal system.

On the other hand , there is a conflict between the federal government and federal member states related to the power sharing, as mentioned in the constitution, article 54 (Allocation of Powers) there are federal features:-

  • Foreign Affairs: The federal government has to deal with the matters related the public interest and importance happening abroad and the policy of the government in dealing with other countries.
  • National defense: The federal government is responsible the issues related to the national security.
  • Citizenship and Immigration: The federal government has to manage the character of an individual viewed as a member of a society behavior in terms of the duties, obligations and functions of a citizen. And the movement of the people in to destination country of which they are not natives or where they do not possess citizenship in order to settle or reside there.
  • Monetary Policy: The federal government has to control the process of which the monetary authority of the country, like the central bank or currency board, also it must manage the supply of money , often targeting an inflation rate or interest rate to ensure price stability and general trust in the currency.

Meanwhile, the shocking is, the autonomy states are challenging and contesting the federal government which is still fragile and struggling restoring the public trust towards the government and facing enormous challenges both internal and external.

Challenges of federalism in Somalia

  • The type of Somalia federal system not yet clears.
  • Lack of truth reconciliation between the Somalis.
  • Status of Mogadishu is still controversial and vacuum (although the constitution gives the decision the two chambers of the federal parliament).
  • The relationship between the federal government and federal member states is fragile
  • Somaliland, a self- proclaimed independent state is also another challenge.

Ultimately, federal system can’t treat the previous grievances and hostilities among the Somalis, but it undermines the unity, solidarity and social cohesiveness of the people.

Anwar Abdifatah Bashir (Freelance Journalist and Researcher)


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