Constructive engagement between the executive and legislative branches is the viable option to prevent undoing progress in Somalia , writes Liban Ahmad
The Somali Federal Parliament Speaker, Mohamed Mursal, issued a statement to the effect that the impeachment motion against President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo still stands. The Speaker’s intervention comes one day after the Secretary of the Parliament, Abdikarim Buh, wroteto the speaker to declare the impeachment motion invalid on grounds that 78 MPs who signed the motion are less than the minimum number of MPs required to submit a motion to the Parliament, as the Draft Constitution stipulates.
This political rift could split the Federal Parliament into two groups. The current Parliament is more assertive than the previous one controlled by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. President Farmajo lacks the stronghold advantage his predecessor had. He made up for this disadvantage by appointing a Prime Minister who runs government without interference from the Presidency. The collaboration between the two leaders of the executive branch means political stability: Prime Minister Hassan Ali Kheire is the only Prime Minister who have not fallen out with the President or faced a Vote of No Confidence since Somalia ended the transition in September 2012. Kheire formed a government that has chalked up a string of achievements such as releasing Somali prisoners from foreign jails, rescuing hundreds of Somalis from Libyan gangs holding immigrants hostage for ransom. The capstone work of Kheire’s government belongs to the Ministry of Finance of which his Finance Minister, Dr Abdirahman Beyle, is in charge. Dr Beyle devised public finance system and negotiated with Federal Member States on fiscal federalism matters. Other notable achievements of the Finance Ministry include progress towards securing debt relief for Somalia, and GDP growth of 3.1%.
President Farmajo and Kheire have had tense working relationship with Federal Member States whose leaders formed in Kismayo the Council for Inter-State Cooperation ( CIC) to counter what they view as a centralist tendencies of Federal Government of Somalia.
Buoyed by the decision to sign up to the economic integration initiative proposed by the Ethiopian Prime Minister, Dr Abiy Ahmed, President Farmajo used mildly inflammatory language towards people he describes as “the angry opposition”. This unfortunate appellation rejuvenated his predecessor, who returned to Mogadishu, launched a political party and received a warm welcome in Kismayo, the temporary seat of Jubaland State.
The Council for Inter-State Cooperation members have expressed support for the impeachment motion. First Deputy Speaker and Second Deputy Speaker question the legality of presidential impeachment on grounds that Somalia does not have a constitutional court to deal with political issues. MPs who submitted the impeachment motion accuse President Farmajo of, among other issues, extraditing a Somali citizen to Ethiopia, and signing a secret agreement with Ethiopia and Eritrea without the Federal Parliament’s imprimatur. In the eyes of many Somalis those two grounds indicate the motive of spoilers whose action has the potential to deprive Somalia of the fragile state rating it had attainedafter the end of the Transitional Federal Government in 2012.
Last week the Parliamentary Speaker reinstated the Finance Committee disbanded by First Deputy Speaker,Abdirahman Muddey. The Speaker of the Federal Parliament is at loggerheads with First and Second Deputy Speakers as well as the President whom he wants to unseat through impeachment. The former President of the Transitional National Government, Abdulqasim Salad Hassan, has called for MPs not to return Somalia to the failed state status. Returning to the path of constructive engagement with the executive branch of the government is the viable option to prevent undoing progress made since 2000.