Local Coverage, Global Perspective

Which is the next Independent Institution to be Disbanded?

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In another reshuffle of the upper echelons of the Somali state, President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud disbands yet another series independent commissions that were formed during the previous administration.

In recent months, we have seen the President disband or reshuffle a number of commission that were meant to be independent of the government and Presidency but have since come under the influence of Villa Somalia.

These includes:

  • The now disbanded Anti-Corruption Commission and the Judicial Service Commission, both were vital for tackling corruption and developing an independent judicial system respectively.
  • An entire reshuffle of the National Economic Council with members that some analysts have argued to be completely inexperienced in the fields of national economic governance and international debt relief system – going so far as to appoint the Villa Somalia economic advisor as head of the NEC.

Villa Somalia Statement

This week, the President disbanded two key independent commissions and one agency.

Let’s take a look at the statement released by the Presidency following this decision:

According to Villa Somalia, the President nullified three Presidential decrees that were signed by Former President Farmaajo on December 31st, 2020. These are:

  • Presidential Decree Number 40 relating to the Independent Election Commission
  • Presidential Decree Number 41 relating to the creation of Somalia’s Electoral Registration and Identification Agency
  • Presidential Decree Number 42 relating to the Independent Borders and Federalisation Commission

Interestingly, in the statement, the President requested for only the Election and the Borders & Federalisation Commissions to be reformed, leaving out the Electoral Registration and Identification Agency, an important agency in creating a census as well as registering voters in constituencies ahead of a direct election.

The Presidency cited a statement released by the Upper House of Somalia at the time, arguing that the passage of the above decrees were in conflict with the provisional constitution of Somalia, however, it does not explain how the formation of these commissions did just that.

The reality is that while the country is busy watching the conflict unfold against Al-Shabab in central Somalia, the Presidency is discreetly disbanding and reshuffling numerous independent commissions and agencies that were vital for tackling corruption, increased accountability and the supporting the government in the delivery of Somalia’s first independent direct elections since the 1960s.

One has to question why the President has taken such an action at a time where the focus of the government seems to be fighting Al-Shabab. Not once has the President criticised or addressed the aforementioned agencies.

A Possible Change to FMS Borders?

The disbandment of the Boundaries and Federation Commission has raised eyebrows to say the least.

For those that do not know, the Boundaries and Federation Commissionsupports the territorial changes in Somalia in order that it may become a fully-fledged federation of states according to Article 111E, sub-section 1 of the Somali Constitution.

The role of the Commission is to conduct studies, make and print maps and conduct inquires to support the creation of viable federal states before putting forward its recommendations to the Federal Parliament which ultimately makes the final decision according to sub-sections 2 and 5 of Article 111E.

Critically, much like the Independent Electoral Commission, Anti-Corruption Commission and others, it is independent from government institutions including the Presidency to ensure political independence as specified under sub-section 4 of Article 111E regarding the Borders and Federalisation Commission. Indeed, politicians have a vested interest to win election and are more likely to alter commissions and systems to benefit electoral results.

What are interesting are recent reports of the possibility that the Presidency has devised a plan to remove Lower Shabelle from South West State and incorporated into Banaadir. This is due to over reliance of Mogadishu security on Lower Shabelle which borders the region.

While these reports are not officially confirmed, it is possible to see another Gedo situation could appear in the South West State (SWS) region of Lower Shabelle. We know since the beginning of Hassan Sheikh’s Presidency, tensions have remained high between Baydhabo and Mogadishu because of support of the latter’s support of politicians opposed to the incumbent SWS State President, Laftagareen including the appointment of previously imprisoned former Al-Shabab Deputy Leader, Mukhtar Roobow who was prevented from running in the 2018 South West State Presidency for obvious reasons including the simple fact that he lead Somalia’s most brutal and extremist organisation for a decade plus, having received training in Afghanistan with Al-Qaeda as well as being an open admirer of former Al-Qaeda leader Bin Laden. A fact he openly talks about and does not even deny.

Irrespective, we have to wait and see what this government does next.

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