19 May 2007 04:27

SOMALIA WATCH

 
Column
  • Title: [SW Column] ( Nuradin Aden Dire) A lame duck parliament for Somalia
  • Posted by/on:[AAJ][17 Aug 2000]

Opinions expressed in this column are those of the contributors and not necessarily those of SW.

 


In Arta Djibouti, most of the Somali delegates have agreed to base the power sharing formula on stamped tribal numbers. In Somalia there is no formal or informal census on the tribes and their numbers, so how did they do that? The delegates or some special committee appointed by conference organisers, spuriously thrown some names out in a hat and selected some genealogy lineage in which some sharing quotas have to be based. Surprisingly the chosen lines of genealogy was neither horizontally nor vertically even. Neither was the chosen factor of tribal mass, mathematically fitting to the chosen model, unless there were numerous assumptions and eliminations that in turn could calibrate the desired overall outcome. Otherwise how can we explain this cut out numbers when it wasn't the consensus or to the applause of the Somali tribal chiefs?

...Latter events, when quotas were being allocated, have proved the complications some Puntland tribes have warned about its inevitable happening. In a sense it was a vindication for those tribes, who rejected and warned about opening of the famous Somali Pandora box. That episode has even led us to a stranger solution. It led us to a situation where a president of a separate state assumed and reserved the responsibility of appointing twenty more parliamentarians of a sovereign state. Is this the new weird world order in action in Arta Djibouti? Or is it the case that president Gelle is paving the way for the reunification of greater Somalia? All five of them? If it is the former, we could only expect weirder things to surface as we go along this peculiar path. And if it is the latter, I hereby formally nominate president Gelle not only to assume the responsibility of appointing few Somali parliamentarians, but also to undertake the presidency of greater Somalia, and his tribe to take the lion share of greater Somali parliamentarians.  NAD 17Aug00


A lame duck parliament

By: Nuradin Aden Dire

Email: ndirie@hotmail.com

In Arta Djibouti, most of the Somali delegates have agreed to base the power sharing formula on stamped tribal numbers. In Somalia there is no formal or informal census on the tribes and their numbers, so how did they do that? The delegates or some special committee appointed by conference organisers, spuriously thrown some names out in a hat and selected some genealogy lineage in which some sharing quotas have to be based. Surprisingly the chosen lines of genealogy was neither horizontally nor vertically even. Neither was the chosen factor of tribal mass, mathematically fitting to the chosen model, unless there were numerous assumptions and eliminations that in turn could calibrate the desired overall outcome. Otherwise how can we explain this cut out numbers when it wasn't the consensus or to the applause of the Somali tribal chiefs?

The delegates have rejected what could have been a baseline information, basing that power sharing formula on regions until comprehensive census and constituents' formation is agreed and framed. Tribalism formula leaves a lot of holes that would sanction the fall of a lot of people down the safety net. This system does not guarantee the relationship between the constituent and his member of the parliament. If I am from an "A" tribe but living in a "B" tribe's traditional territory, or if I am from a tribe which does not ascribe to a particular traditional area, who is my member of the parliament who I can talk to about my problems and about the policies I would like to campaign for? Let us try another one: if I lived for generations in a place which my tribe traditionally did not settle, and because of the civil war I recently migrated to a place where I am not known or have little political strings to pull nevertheless a place where my tribe dwells, what chance do I have to be selected from the quota allocated to my tribe? Unfortunately once again the answers I hear for these questions are the very old "lets just get something first shall we?"

In contrast, the region formula guarantees the relationship between the constituent and his member of the parliament. You could be living in any place but you know who is your member of the parliament who you can talk to about your problems and the policies you would like to campaign for. The regional settings at the present time in Somalia, also acts in a practical way to cool down the tribal sentiments that is roof top high at this particular time. It may be practical for the foreseeable future that the tribes, which have the majority of tribal population, will dominate the ascribed regions. But in the future it is possible that things will change and there is no institutionalised subscription to restrict any person from any tribe to be elected from the region he/she or his/her families choose to dwell. For the tribes that do not traditionally ascribe to any region, some allocated quotas could always be reserved for them. It could even be latter argued for regional expansions in line with tribal demands, much easier than the case for tribal shrinkage and expansions or even comprehensive census of nomadic Somalia. Moreover the settlements of people in their respective regions now, are something which happened on an evolutionary bases over a long time and could more or less be near to fairness.

It may be fair to say that each tribe have agreed or rejected any proposed idea in the conference in Arta, guided by its own interest or just opposing whatever its bitterest rival tribe favours. But it was extraordinary that only some delegates, though not official, from Puntland area rejected the tribal bases and opted for regionalism. Some might argue that those tribes did that out of their tribal interest. Those delegates themselves announced that they are doing this out of an in-depth knowledge of the Somali tribal fabric and the complications embodied in this proposed tribal formula. On either case, why only them? Is it the case that regionalism is not in the interest of any other tribe rather than some Puntlanders? Is it not the case that there are some other tribes that will relatively benefit from the region formula? I think there are, but for the sake of opposing, those tribes seem to have opposed their Puntland counterparts.

Latter events, when quotas were being allocated, have proved the complications some Puntland tribes have warned about its inevitable happening. In a sense it was a vindication for those tribes, who rejected and warned about opening of the famous Somali Pandora box. That episode has even led us to a stranger solution. It led us to a situation where a president of a separate state assumed and reserved the responsibility of appointing twenty more parliamentarians of a sovereign state. Is this the new weird world order in action in Arta Djibouti? Or is it the case that president Gelle is paving the way for the reunification of greater Somalia? All five of them? If it is the former, we could only expect weirder things to surface as we go along this peculiar path. And if it is the latter, I hereby formally nominate president Gelle not only to assume the responsibility of appointing few Somali parliamentarians, but also to undertake the presidency of greater Somalia, and his tribe to take the lion share of greater Somali parliamentarians.

I could understand some tribes opting out for tribalism formula to get some healthy share when they are mentioned as a tribal entity, they must have plenty of reasons to do so and even the less complications they faced when they easily distributed the allocated seats among themselves strongly suggests that they relatively got more shares than they have secretly wished for. But what I could not understand is the tribes, which opted out for tribalism and rejected regionalism against their clearest interest. That system they opted for has even secured their allocation of the minim numbers they have ever expected. Their anger was latter on so strong that they even thought about puling out of the conference they supported for almost a year. But why did they vote, in the first place, for a system that they could have seen will warrant marginalising themselves? One possible explanation at this point is that they were opposing their bitterest tribe, which opted out for a system that tribe thought was just. They were also opposing a system that they thought would ensure their bitterest tribe's fair share of influence. As far as they were concerned, the first and foremost priority was opposing their bitterest tribe just for the sake of it. Their opposition to their bitterest tribe was so ferocious that it has blinded them to even see their own interest before it was too late. Is this a preview of how things will be dealt with in the established parliament? If so, what possibly can be done in that parliament with "middi middi ku taag" attitude?

Interestingly enough, this parliament and its out coming government was allocated to head and tackle the most hotly debated issues the conference could not even touch let alone handle. The return of the looted national and private property and possibly the reallocation of the parliament seats based on national census. Here we have the case of the chicken and egg situation. The fair share of parliament seats will not be allocated unless the parliament approves the national census, and the existing parliamentarians will not approve any suggestion that will relatively reduce the allocated parliament seats to their tribes, census or no census. Couple this scenario with the famous attitude of I always support what you oppose and I always oppose what you support could only be the perfect recipe of inaction and disaster. Not carefully and objectively thinking through a piece of legislation is dangerous enough, but even more dangerous are the premise in which the debate of that piece of legislation is based, and the attitude in which those proceedings are conducted. We were familiar with a politician who does not function with his own mind but functions with the line of his party, but what do you do about a whole party that does not function with its own line? But rather on the look out for what its rival party functions with, in order to oppose for the sake of it and continue to do so unashamedly in circles?


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