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PROPOSAL

THE WELFARE STATE OF THE SOMALI NATION:


A POSSIBLE SOLUTION TO THE SOMALI DILEMMA

Abdisalam M Issa-Salwe

Paper presented at the Second Congres International Des Etudes Somaliennes


Pour Une Culture De La Paix En Somalie, 25-27 October 1995, Institut du Monde Arab,
Paris.

Published as article in the book:


Mohamed Mohamed-Abdi et Partice Bernard, (eds.)
in Pour Une Culture de la Paix en Somalie, (Paris, Association Européenne des Etudes
Somaliennes, 1997).
CONTENT
Pages
Introduction ............................................................................................................................................................ 1
The Leadership Crisis ......................................................................................................................................... 1
Were The Somalis Without Government Prior To The Formation Of The Modern Somali State? ........................ 2
Traditional Authority And The Institution Of The Shir (Assembly) ................................................................... 2
What System Is Suitable For The Somali Situation? .......................................................................................... 3
Proposal: The Welfare State Of The Somali Nation ............................................................................................. 3
Why A No-Party System? ................................................................................................................................... 3
An Alternative To Parties ................................................................................................................................... 4
Administrative Division Of A Canton .................................................................................................................... 4
Councils And Elections .......................................................................................................................................... 5
Voting And Election Systems ............................................................................................................................. 5
Voting Qualification ....................................................................................................................................... 5
Human Rights ................................................................................................................................................. 5
Cantonal Level ........................................................................................................................................................ 6
How The Canton Councils Are Formed .............................................................................................................. 6
Eligibility ........................................................................................................................................................ 7
How The Cantonal Assembly Can Be Elected .................................................................................................... 7
The Cantonal Assembly ...................................................................................................................................... 7
The Chamber Of Councillors .......................................................................................................................... 7
The Chamber Of Representatives ................................................................................................................... 7
The Power Of The Representatives ............................................................................................................... 8
The Cantonal Council ......................................................................................................................................... 8
The Cantonal Judiciary Council .......................................................................................................................... 8
National Level ........................................................................................................................................................ 8
Separation Of Powers ......................................................................................................................................... 8
What Kind Of Legislature? ................................................................................................................................. 9
The National Assembly....................................................................................................................................... 9
The Chamber Of Elders .................................................................................................................................. 9
The Chamber Of Cantonal Council............................................................................................................... 10
The National Council ........................................................................................................................................ 10
The National Judiciary Council ........................................................................................................................ 11
Advantages And Disadvantages Of The System ................................................................................................... 11
Advantages ....................................................................................................................................................... 11
Disadvantage..................................................................................................................................................... 12
Chart:
Administrative Chart .......................................................................................................................................... 5
Cantonal Chart .................................................................................................................................................... 6
National Chart..................................................................................................................................................... 9
Notes ..................................................................................................................................................................... 13
References ............................................................................................................................................................ 13
INTRODUCTION

Like many African nations at the end of the eighties, Somalia faced economic, social and
political problems. Many of these countries are still struggling to survive through the upheaval, but
Somalia could not solve its problems as a healthy nation. Instead the problems which led to its
disintegration and dismemberment with a bloody civil war, have claimed more than three hundred
thousand dead and wounded, with roughly four fifth of its population displaced. Nearly one fifth of
the population fled to Ethiopia, Djibouti and Kenya as refugees, these displaced people have lost their
past and their future and that of their children. Subsequently, the country has been divided into
fiefdoms ruled by separate armed clans. Each clan group (or clan-family as is better known) are
grouped in a clan-security area. The international community as well as the Somalis is still pondering
and exhausting on how the Somali state will be revived. The memories of the dreadful fratricidal war
still linger in the minds of the Somalis thus creating major obstacles to peace. Any peace agreement,
unless it is seen in concomitance with the reality of today's Somalia and the background of the
tragedy, cannot be a sustainable one.
The preamble of the Constitution of the Somali Republic promulgated in June 1961 stressed
that Somalia is being a unitary republic with a representative democratic form of government. The
legislature was unicameral and it was composed of deputies elected by universal direct and secret
suffrage for a term of five years and representing the whole people. Though the system was based on
liberal democracy, it did not define well the separation of power (e.g. the system did not separate the
executive from the legislative). In fact, soon the system degenerated into anarchy and paved the way
for the military takeover which soon transformed the Somali state into a police state.1
After over a century of colonial defamation of Somali culture followed by a decade of feeble
governing and two decades of repressive centralised state control involving the manipulation of clan
mentality, the exploitation of traditional rivalry and suppression and collective punishment of any
form of rebellion a destructive instinct was created in society against the fabric of the Somali
nationhood. Consequently, the outcome triggered an unprecedented turning point for the Somali state,
that people should return to their clan "areas". Given the weakening of the foundations of national
unity, it was inevitable that the relative strength of lineage and clan loyalties, and their institutions to
become the dominant social structure.
Not only has the Somali state failed to replace the clan with a feeling of security for the
individual Somali, but it has also become a threat to his being. It was a natural regression, therefore
for the Somali to go to his/her roots, i.e. the clan, which was eroded by the tides of social change and
political exploitation. These phenomena created resentment amongst the Somalis, which turned into
an instinct of destruction towards the state and its institutions. The destructiveness was assumed to be
derived from "the unbearable feeling of powerlessness, since it aims at the removal of all objects with
which the individual has to compare himself."2 Life has an inner dynamism of its own and if it is
curbed it decomposes and transforms into energies directed towards destructiveness. 3 The systematic
repression of the last two decades by the dictatorial military regime, thereby accelerates the process
of destructiveness in Somali society. Destructive political culture has been introduced into the
political thinking of the Somalis, changing the positive cultural values of the nationhood. 4

THE LEADERSHIP CRISIS


An alien system introduced by the colonialists to manipulate the traditional Somali
institutions to their advantage was the beginning of the erosion of these institutions and this culture
which in turn created the landscape for the emergence of the modern leadership in the 1960s. The
worst affected was the leadership, as this practice, also known as the Aqil (Akhil) system, initiated the
challenge of linkages for the office of clan-head. The holder of the office was given a salary and
some concessions by the colonial administrative authority. The system was intended to corrode the
Somali institution of the shir (assembly) and traditional leadership as it intended to weaken the
integrity of the clan, and with it the office of the clan leaders.5 To do this, was to depreciate and

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undermine the "traditional source of leadership"6 which was to cripple the future leadership of the
modern Somali state and as a result pave the way for the breakdown of the Somali state institutions at
the end of the 1990s.
From this frightening prospect is there a way out? Can Somalis build a new hope for the
rubble of the collapsed unitary Somali state? Unless an alternative to this situation is found there is
no way out from the current plight. To answer these questions I have attempted to put forward an
alternative solution as a way out of this nightmare.7
For convenience, I will give examples on how the main political institutions should be
created.

WERE THE SOMALIS WITHOUT GOVERNMENT PRIOR TO THE


FORMATION OF THE MODERN SOMALI STATE?
A government is, in simple terms, an orderly way of running a community affairs. In this
context, there is no doubt that the Somalis, prior to the colonialists and prior to the rise of the
modern Somali state, had a government which consisted of the elders of the lineages. The elders and
clan leaders were vested in the context of the clans, with the responsibility of running their respective
community's affairs.
The Somali people have a strong sense of cultural and linguistic unity. Before independence
in 1960, the ecological and economic life compelled most Somalis to lead a pastoral life, therefore,
they were widely dispersed and lacked the necessary organisations to form a single political unit.
Prior the formation of the modern Somali state, as kinship in the psychological sense is the
feeling of closeness to certain people that results from being related to them,8 for the Somalis, the
clan is the most important political unit in the traditional system. It is traced through males to a
common male ancestor from whom they take their clan name. Political alliance is therefore
determined by agnatic descent and political segmentation agrees to differences in agnatic origin.9
Descent units are united by a bond of corporate commitments, the major one of these being that
loyalties are to be offered, first and foremost, to one group unit.10
The traditional political loyalties are reinforced by a political-legal contract (xeer), an
informal legal contract where Somali society settles its legal and political disputes. The xeer is also
the principle defining the extent of the political community.
However, as a way to sanction the defined xeer, some form of coercion is applied such as
compensatory payment for an offence (xaal).

TRADITIONAL AUTHORITY AND THE INSTITUTION OF THE SHIR (ASSEMBLY)


As in all kinship systems, the Somali political authority was spread through the community as
a whole. There was no centre for political control. This reflected the Somali's extreme independence
and individualism.
Clan leaders dealt with people politically on a face-to-face basis. This traditional authority
might have extended over the people with whom they did not come into contact, but only if a kinship
relationship existed between the leaders and the others. They were responsible for all affairs
concerning the clan and its relations with other clans. They claim no rights as rulers over their
people. They presided, not ruled over people to whom they were related. I M Lewis reiterates this
matter in A Pastoral Democracy, "... even the office of clan-head is generally little more than a
nominal title corresponding to the degree of social and territorial exclusiveness which the clan more
than other orders of grouping possesses".11
Although, the clan-leaders (Suldaan, Garaad, Ugaas, Malaaq, Iimaam, Islaan, Beeldaaje,
etc.) preside over the assembly of elders (shir), they have little executive power and do not make
decisions (Ugaaska wuu guddoonshaaye, ma gooyo).12
The Somali pastoral-nomads have no hierarchical system like their brothers, the agro-
nomads. When the clan-head dies an assembly (shir) is held to elect another leader.
Somali egalitarianism is a fundamental social concept in which every man has the right to a
say in communal matters. The issue is discussed in the institutionalised shir (assembly) which Lewis
defines as, "The fundamentals of government, which has no formal constitution, except that the
membership of the lineage concerned, no regular place or time of the meeting, and there are no
official positions on it."13
After lengthy discussion and analysis of the matter concerned, a decision in the shir is
decided by consensus. This is what is known as pastoral democracy, 14 a democracy where everybody
has the right to take part. All adult males are elders and they are empowered by contractual treaty to
direct the policies of the lineage.
The narrow colonial concept of democracy was incapable of understanding the centuries old
democratic concepts and institutions evolved by indigenous people such as the pastoral Somalis.
To ease the running of their administration in the territories, both British and Italian colonial
authorities appointed a chief for each clan. For example, the introduction by the British
Administration of the "Local Authorities Ordinance" in the British Somaliland in 1950, was opposed
by clan leaders as the system challenged their authority. This practice, also known as the Aqil (or
Akhil) system, caused lineages to contest the office of clan-head. The Aqil (holder of the office) was
given a salary and some concession by the administrative authority.15 They helped the District
Commissioners in running the territory. The system was intended to create competition among the
lineages and weaken the integrity of the clan and, with it, the office of the clan leaders. This
undermining of the "traditional source of leadership" 16 was to cripple the future leadership of the
modern Somali state and paved the way for the breakdown of state institutions in the early 1990s.

WHAT SYSTEM IS SUITABLE FOR THE SOMALI SITUATION?


The alternative to a unitary system is a semi-federal system. The country is currently divided
into 4 or 5 parts or, in other words, into cantons (or states). It is unrealistic to reconstruct a new
Somali state (or the Second Republic) from the old system whose legacy created the current crisis.
However, from the current reality it is possible to create a semi-federal state system which could also
be a possible solution to the Somali plight.

PROPOSAL: THE WELFARE STATE OF THE SOMALI NATION


This system, which I called the Welfare State of the Somali Nation (WSSN), 17 is based on a
no-party system of government. In other words, it is a modernised version of the centuries old
democratic practices of the Somalis social institutions. It is based on Somali traditional democratic
values where the issues which concern the society are discussed in the institutionalised shir
(assembly), and after deep discussion and analysis of the matter concerned, a decision is reached by
consensus. This is what is known as pastoral democracy, a democracy which everybody has the right
to take part. The stimulation of political attitudes as a basis for political participation is of special
importance in a society whose governmental system depends on popular participation. Political
socialisation is a continuous and cumulative process of learning. Voting behaviour and political
attitudes are the product of a wide variety of influences, some of them in existence before an
individual is born, and which are transmitted to their children.

WHY A NO-PARTY SYSTEM?


The political party is the ultimate source of power and permeates all aspects of the political
system and the state institutions.18 The majority of one-party states have the party's monopoly
enshrined within the constitutions. Similarly, in ostensibly multiparty states, legal control will
sometimes favour the dominant government party, making life for opposition groups difficult which
can lead to other social tension. In the Somali context, politics are sometimes personalised and the
dominant party may be interpreted as a dominant clan or lineage over the other. Opposition means a

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group (or clan) who are outside the government and in effect, this can create a negative impression at
this crucial time in Somali history.
In a stabilised political democracy, it can be taken for granted that social and economic
politics will work out by and through parties, even when "one party replaces another after an election
it would overturn everything that its predecessor has done" 19 as this relies on a broad consensus
between the parties about the nature of the economic and social system.20 However, in this critical
time, the stillborn political democracy of Somalia cannot be trusted on parties.
For two depressing decades Somali society did not experience any form of democratic
exercise. Worse, the new generation had never had any chance at all to do so. The party polity of the
first decade of independence (1960s) fell short of what the Somali people expected to get from the
democratic exercise. Instead the circumstances generated tense hostility among clans and lineages in
the whole country. The unity which the country needed most was going to erode.
Both elections, which were held in the civilian governments, March 1963 and in March 1969
respectively, were marred by violence. In the social context the elections opened old wounds among
lineages and sub-lineages as the traditional rivalries found new means of expression. Some sub-
lineages or lineages put forward one of their own members as a candidate. The parties became an
instrument for forwarding clan interests; at the close of the 1960s, the country had 64 parties because
of the attempts to satisfy the various clans or lineage interests.
The democratic parliamentary process which was 'expected' to go well with the traditional
political institutions turned sour.21 Emphasis had been placed on party politics rather than on
mobilisation for national needs22 and the system definitely facilitated anarchy.23

AN ALTERNATIVE TO PARTIES
The system described below emphasises interest groups' to promoting their interest in a
national framework. In this sense an interest group is "an association of people who come together, or
are brought together, to represent, promote and defend particular interests or sets of interests" 24
There should be two groups: (1) a cause group whose interests, aims to promote and defend a
much wider section of society, and (2) a pressure group who is a group representing an interest group
which seeks to achieve its aim by putting pressure on the government, either on the canton (for
convenience I will use the word canton or in the Somali word Waax) or national level.
Sovereignty should reside in the cantons (Waax). The national government should exercise
only those powers vested on it by the constitution. As democracy is for the people, by the people,
this system focuses the need to decentralise the power to enable the Somalis to take their political
lives in their hands and at the same time stimulates the participation of the people in the cantonal and
national affairs.
The cantons have to contribute part of their revenue to the running of the national
government. The national government has to divide, in equal terms, any kind of aid obtains.
Each canton has to preserve its own separation of powers based on: (1) the Legislative, (2)
the Executive, (3) the Judiciary
Here the concept of the separation of powers is designed to ensure that the Executive and
Legislature are not integrated, but interrelated, keeping each other in check.

ADMINISTRATIVE DIVISION OF A CANTON


For administrative purpose each canton shall be divided into four administrative centres;
1. The village is considered to be a permanent settlement slightly bigger or smaller than a district the
hamlet depending on the size and population number (the size of a hamlet is not defined here).
2. The district shall be the third administrative unit after hamlet and village. It shall be composed of
several hamlets (nomadic or district hamlets).
3. The hamlet shall be the smallest administrative unit and it is:
a The nomadic hamlet (beel miyi) shall be a group of nomadic households settled in a
given area. Administratively it will be part of the district whose jurisdiction covers
the area in which the given nomadic hamlet is situated.
b The district hamlet (beel degmo) shall be the division of a district.
4. The region shall be the largest administrative centre of a canton as it shall be composed of
districts, villages, district hamlets and nomadic hamlets.

The Federal State

Autonomous Cantons

Regions

Districts (and their Hamlets)

Villages

COUNCILS AND ELECTIONS

VOTING AND ELECTION SYSTEMS


The voting system has to be the simple plurality, or "first-past-the-post", method, secret
suffrage and direct only at the district level councils.

VOTING QUALIFICATION
Anyone who reaches the age of 18 shall be eligible to vote. However, the criteria for those
standing for office will vary according to the office in question (not defined here).
As this system emphasises that the democratic process of the country should come from the
grassroots, the nucleus of the power lies in the regions, districts (and its hamlets) and village levels.
Therefore, each of these political units has to elect its own councils.

HUMAN RIGHTS
The laws of the national and cantonal administration have to comply with the Principles of
Islam, and that of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights adopted by the General Assembly of
the United Nations on 10th December 1948.
Respect shall be given to the fundamental rights of the citizens, social equality, political and
judicial guarantees.

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Cantonal Level

The Cantonal Assembly The Cantonal Council The Cantonal Judiciary


Council

The Chamber of The Cantonal Cabinet The Cantonal Courts


Councillors Council
The Chamber of
Representatives Adminstrative
Departments

CANTONAL LEVEL

HOW THE CANTON COUNCILS ARE FORMED


The system stresses that there must be four levels of canton council, these are: the hamlets
(nomadic or district hamlet), the village, the district and the region.
1. TWO TYPES OF HAMLETS : There shall be two types of hamlet and they are as follows:
a. Nomadic Hamlets
The nomadic hamlet occurs when nomadic people settle as a group in a given area (the
number is not determined here). These hamlets shall be part of the district whose jurisdiction
covers the said hamlet at the time of the election. For example, each hamlet can elect its
council of 11 members (7 active, 4 reserve ). The Hamlet Council shall select a chairman
from within who shall be the Elder of the Hamlet (Duqa Beesha) for a period of three years.
b. District Hamlets
Each district shall be composed of a number of hamlets, depending on its size. For examples,
each district hamlet shall elect its district hamlet council of 11 members (7 active, 4 reserve).
Each district hamlet shall select from within a chairman who shall be the Elder of the
District, Hamlet for a period of three years.
2. THE VILLAGE (TUULO)
For examples, each village shall elect its village council of 11 members (7 active, 4 reserve). The
Village Council shall select from within a chairman who shall be the Elder of the Village (Duqa
Tuulada) for a period of three years.
3. THE DISTRICT (DEGMO)
Each district shall be composed of nomadic hamlets (see above) and district hamlets. The District
Hamlets Councils (nomadic and district hamlets, and the village council) shall sit together to
select a District Council. Then the District Council shall select a chairman who will be called the
Elder of the District (Duqa Degmada) for a period of three years.
4. THE REGION (GOBOL)
Each regional council, namely hamlet, village and district councils, shall elect a Regional
Council from within which in turn, its chairman shall be selected who shall be called the Elder of the
Region (Duqa Gobolka).
The region shall be the third centre of administration of a canton (Waax) and it shall be
composed of several districts which shall be determined by the population size of the region.
ELIGIBILITY
Any Somali citizen can give his/her vote anywhere within a canton only if he/she can prove
residence of that area for not less than a prescribed period (no period is defined here).
Any Somali citizen at the age of 21 years can contest to a public office unless he/she has been
convicted of criminal offences against humanity or the Somali nation.

HOW THE CANTONAL ASSEMBLY CAN BE ELECTED


Each canton shall have its own separation of powers based on: (1) the Cantonal Assembly,
(2) the Cantonal Council, and (3) the Cantonal Judiciary Council.

THE CANTONAL ASSEMBLY


A legislative power, which shall be confined at the cantonal level, shall be vested in a
Cantonal Assembly, which shall consist of two houses: (1) the Chamber of Councillors, and (2) the
Chamber of Representatives.

THE CHAMBER OF COUNCILLORS


The Chamber of Councillors shall be made up of representatives of the regions of a canton.
Each region shall elect 5 Emissaries (3 active and 2 reserve.) However, the size of this chamber will
be determined by the population of each district. The larger a district is, in demographic terms, the
larger its representation in this chamber shall be.
a) The three active members have the power to vote and they take part in all activities of the
Chamber of Councillors.
b) The two reserves (sugayaal) are only observers during parliamentary debates. They can
obtain voting power only when they replace member(s) of the active deputies. The two reserves
are listed first and second, according to the votes they received during the election. When the seat
of an active member is declared vacant, the Speaker of Chamber of Councillors shall proclaim the
first reserve as an active member. The same process shall be followed in the case of another
member vacating his/her seat.
c) The Chamber of Councillors shall be elected every two years.
d) This chamber's voting power shall be limited only to two occasions: (i) in the case of
impeaching a member of the Cantonal Council and National Council or (ii) when amending the
constitution.

THE CHAMBER OF REPRESENTATIVES


The Chamber of Representatives shall be made up of representatives of all districts electoral
of a canton. Each district shall elect 5 Emissaries (3 active and 2 reserve). However the size of this
chamber will be determined by the population of each district. The larger a district is, in demographic
terms the larger on average the size of its representation of this chamber).
a) The three active members have the power to vote and they take part in all activities of the
Chamber of Representatives.
b) The two reserves (reserve) are only observers during parliamentary debates. They can obtain
voting power only when they replace member(s) of the active deputies. The two reserves are
listed first and second, according to the votes they received during the election. When the seat of
an active member is declared vacant, the Speaker of the Chamber of Representatives shall
proclaim the first reserve as an active member. The same process shall be followed in the case of
another member vacating his/her seat.

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c) The Chamber of Representatives shall be elected every four years by the canton's district
electoral bodies. It is divided into various sub-committees, e.g. Financial and Economic, Foreign
Affairs, Security and Defence Affairs, Social and Cultural Affairs. The number of sub-
committees will depend on the needs of the Cantonal Assembly. These sub-committees shall
monitor the day-to-day activities of the Cantonal Council and their administration.

THE POWER OF THE REPRESENTATIVES


The day-to-day working of cantonal government policies is monitored by the Cantonal
Assembly. The Coordinator General of the Canton and his/her colleagues of the Canton Council have
to get the Cantonal Assembly's vote of confidence for the appointment of their cabinet and for the
Canton Judiciary Council judges. This function empowers the Cantonal Assembly to steer, with their
power of check and balance at the canton level, the Canton Council's appointees.

THE CANTONAL COUNCIL


The Cantonal Assembly Members (CAMs) with all the canton's councils (regions, districts,
villages and hamlets) shall sit together to elect a Cantonal Council, from which, in turn, it shall elect
a chairman, who will act as Coordinator General of the canton. The chairmanship shall rotate within
the Cantonal Council every one year (the tenure of this office shall depend on the number of Cantons
to make it possible for each member to have his/her turn to hold chairmanship). The other members
of this council shall serve as vice-chairmen in equal power.
In case of the removal of the Coordinator General of the Canton from office, of his/her death,
resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties of the secretary of state's office, the same
shall devolve to the next Vice-Chairman in line.
The Coordinator General of the Canton has to get the Cantonal Assembly's vote of
confidence for the appointment of his/her cabinet and four appointees of the Canton Judiciary
Council judges. This function empowers the Cantonal Assembly to steer, with their power of check
and balance at the canton level, the Cantonal Council's appointees.

THE CANTONAL JUDICIARY COUNCIL


This council is vested with limited judicial power as it reviews and determines whether acts
of the canton government conflict with the Constitution. It is selected every six years by the
Coordinator General of the Canton and presented to the Canton Assembly for confirmation. This
council is composed of professional judges who are qualified to perform such tasks (the number is
not determined here).
The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity at the canton level, however,
where a matter arises between the Canton Judicial Council and the National Judiciary Council, the
latter will have pre-eminence over the former.

NATIONAL LEVEL

SEPARATION OF POWERS
This structure shall divide the three powers of the state: the power to make law, i.e. its
legislative function; the power to enforce the law, i.e. its executive functions; and the power to
interpret the law and adjudicate in disputes between the citizen and the canton, i.e. its judicial
function.
The accumulation of all powers, namely legislative, executive and judiciary, in the same
hands may lead to dictatorship and tyranny, hence, to avoid such circumstance, this system creates a
check and balance structure as follows: (1) the National Assembly, (2) the National Council, and (3)
the National Judiciary Council.
Full faith and credit shall be given in each Canton (Waax) to the public acts, records, and
judicial proceedings of every other Canton. The Chamber of the Cantonal Council (see below) may
by general laws prescribe the manner in which such acts, records and proceedings shall be proved,
and the effect thereof.

National Level

The National Assembly The National Council The National Judiciary


Council

The Chamber of Elders The National Cabinet The Federal Courts


Council
The Chamber of Cantonal
Council Adminstrative
Departments

The citizens of each Canton shall be entitled to the same privileges and immunities as each
other. Because of the nature of the federal system the national government shall retain the
responsibility of the national defence, currency, foreign affairs, etc.

WHAT KIND OF LEGISLATURE?


To exercise the new federalism on one hand and to create an environment where all clans or
lineage can be represented, requires two chambers. The assembly is the body which enables political
decisions to be made into law. The main purpose of the two cameras, pattern is to ensure that
ordinary people, the cantons and the lineages are represented. It can also be helpful in solving
regional differences of interest. Regional interests, which might object to a centralised government
are to some extent pacified by the knowledge that they are formally represented at the centre. The
parliament acts as these representatives and, as such, carries their views to the National Council.

THE NATIONAL ASSEMBLY


All legislative powers herein granted shall be vested in a National Assembly (which is
technically the national legislative council of the National Somali State), and shall consist of two
chambers: (1) the Chamber of Elders, and (2) the Chamber of Cantonal Council.

THE CHAMBER OF ELDERS


The Chamber of Elders shall be composed of members chosen by their clan or lineage. This
chamber's purpose is to ensure that all clans and lineages are presented at the highest echelon of the
power of the nation. The members of this chamber can be replaced by their respective lineage or sub-
clan groups.
This chamber's voting power shall be limited only on two occasions: (a) in the case of
impeaching a member of the National Council and (c) when amending the constitution.

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There is no time limit for Chamber of Elders membership, except in cases where a member
reaches the age of compulsory retirement (not specified here) or in the case of a member being
mentally unsound, in which circumstance the member automatically loses his/her membership.

THE CHAMBER OF CANTONAL COUNCIL


The Chamber of Cantonal Council (Aqalka Waaxaha) shall be composed of four senators
from each canton of the Somali State (2 active and 2 reserve). The Chamber of Cantonal Council
shall choose their Speaker and other officers.
a) The two active members have voting powers and they take part of all activities in the
Chambers of the Canton Council.
b) The two reserves (reserve) are only observers during parliamentary debates. They can
acquire voting powers only when they replace a member of the active canton representatives. The
two reserves are listed first and second, according to the votes they received during the election
and replace accordingly. When the seat of an active member is declared vacant, the Speaker of
The Chamber of the Cantonal Council (Af-hayeenka Aqalka Waaxaha) will proclaim the first
reserve as an active member. The same process will be followed if another member vacates
his/her seat.

THE POWER OF THE CHAMBER OF CANTONAL COUNCIL


The Chamber of Cantonal Council (Aqalka Wakiillada Waaxaha) will be elected every two
years by the canton councils (see below). It shall be divided into various sub-committees, e.g.
Financial and Economic, Foreign Affairs, Security and Defence Affairs, Social and Cultural Affairs.
The number of sub-committees will depend on the needs of The Chamber of the Cantonal Council
(Aqalka Wakiillada Waaxaha).
The National Council has to get The Chamber of the Cantonal Council's confirmation for the
appointment of their cabinet and for appointees of the National Judiciary Council judges. This
function empowers the Chamber of the Cantonal Council to steer, with their power of check and
balance, the National Council's appointees.
The National Council has to get the confidence of the Chamber of the Canton Council for the
appointment of their cabinet and for appointees of the National Judiciary Council judges.

THE NATIONAL COUNCIL


Executive power shall be vested in the National Council. Each Canton Assembly member
and its councils (canton, region, district and village councils) shall elect one member of the National
Council for every five year period. The National Council shall choose its Chairman who will be the
National President of the canton for a period of one year.
Thought the executive powers of the national government is vested in the National Council it
is counterbalanced by the National Assembly and the National Judiciary Council.
In case of the removal of one of the National Council members from office, e.g. by death,
resignation, or the inability to discharge the powers and duties vested in him/her, the Canton of the
said person has to elect another member to the post within a period of sixty days. In the cases where
the said person had held the chairmanship of the National Council, the post will be filled by the
member next in succession to the chairmanship.
The Chairman of the National Council shall also be the Commander-in-Chief of the Army of
the National Somali State during his/her office. The National Council shall have power, and with
the advice and consent of the Chamber of the Canton Council.
They shall from time to time give to the Chamber of the Canton Council information on the
state of the nation, and recommend to their consideration such measures as the National Council shall
judge necessary and expedient.
THE NATIONAL JUDICIARY COUNCIL
The National Judicial Council is the third state power. Judicial power is vested on this
council as it reviews and determines whether acts of the national and cantonal governments conflict
with the Constitution. It is a counterbalance to the National Council and the National Assembly. It is
the guardian of the Constitution and of the individual rights. It is selected every six years by the
National Council and presented to the Chamber of the Canton Council for confirmation. This council
is composed of professional judges who are qualified to perform such task (the number is not
determined here).
The judges, both of the supreme and inferior courts, shall hold their offices under conditions
of good behaviour (to be specified). The judicial power shall extend to all cases, in law and equity.

ADVANTAGES AND DISADVANTAGES OF THE SYSTEM

This system is presented as a possible solution to the current nightmare of the Somali
dilemma, where the country is fragmented into fiefdoms ruled by separate armed clans. This system
has many advantages as well as disadvantages, and they are as follows:

ADVANTAGES
1. As the name defines, this system recommends adopting a semi-federal system of government
as a possible solution to the Somali plight. The country is currently divided into 4 or 5 parts
which in turn can to be interpreted into cantons or states and its unrealistic to reconstruct Somalia
on the old system (a unitary system of government) which was a factor in the creation of the
current crisis. On the contrary, the current reality presents an opportunity to create a semi-federal
state.
2. The system emphasises the decentralising of power within the individual cantons and within
the federation. It emphasises the separation of the three powers of the state, namely legislative,
executive and judiciary of both levels (canton and national). The purpose is to avoid these powers
falling into one hand, which could lead to dictatorship.
3. The nucleus of the power lies in the hamlets or villages. This gives strength to the claim that
is a "pure democracy".
4. It can give the people the right to choose their representatives in the government. It can also
give an opportunity to supervise and control their representatives. This practice can stimulate a
positive political culture which can change the destructive instinct which has affected the people
in the last two decades and which caused the erosion of the foundations of the Somali nationhood.
5. This system entrusts four levels to be represented by the people: district, region, canton and
elders (or traditional leaders). The district and region lies in the canton level, and the latter two
represents the autonomous cantons and the traditional leaders.
6. The national executive (National Council) is a collegiate whose presidency rotates each year.
This collegiate is composed of a member from each of the canton who becomes president of the
federation.
7. Each autonomous canton shall have its own bi-cameral assembly (Cantonal Assembly): (a)
the Chamber of Councillors and (b) the Chamber of Representatives. Both chambers will give
both the regions and the district electorate the chance to be represented.
8. At the national level, there is the National Assembly, which is composed of two chambers:
(a) the Chamber of Elders and (b) The Chamber of the Canton Council. The main purpose of the
two cameras, pattern is to ensure that the cantons and the lineages or clans are properly
represented in the law making "factory" of the nation. On the other hand it can be helpful in
solving regional differences of interest. Regional interests which might object to a central
government are to some extend pacified by the knowledge that they are formally represented at the
centre.

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9. A no-party system could be a healing device for the Somali crisis. Currently, the Somalis are
divided across clans and lineages. Taking a party system, as experience has shown previously,
can lead to a division across clans or lineage which could further exasperate the Somali crisis. A
political party can be the ultimate source of power and permeates all aspects of the political
system and the state institutions. The majority of one-party states have the party's monopoly
enshrined within the constitutions. In the same ostensibly multiparty states legal control will
sometimes favour the dominant government party, making life for opposition group difficult, and
it can lead to other social tension. In the Somali context, politics are sometimes personalised and
the dominant party may be interpreted as the dominant clan or lineage.
10. As an alternative to parties, this system emphasises interest groups as a device with which to
promote a group's interest within the national framework. In this sense an interest group is "an
association of people who come together, or are brought together, to represent, promote and
defend a particular interest or set of interests." In case of the removal from office, or death,
resignation, or inability to discharge the powers and duties vested on a councillor (of every level,
e.g. national, canton, regional, district, village, etc.) this system has a mechanism which makes it
easy to replace the member by the "reserve". As the reserve shall take part in the debates, this can
also assure continuity of the business led by the replaced council

DISADVANTAGE
1. The system gives limited power to the national level. A strong central government might be
needed at this crucial time to undertake rehabilitation and reconstruction which the country
desperately needs.
2. Only the National Council and the Cantonal Council will be elected indirectly rather than by
universal suffrage. This means that they are elected by councillors which are being delegated by
their respective areas.
3. The alternative to parties will be interest or pressure groups. It might be difficult for the
pressure group to spearhead a national issue. They can handle only a limited interest which will
have limited spotlight.
4. It is commonly believed that it is difficult to exercise without party in a truly democratic
procedure . It is also difficult to see the opposition as there is no party to express their opinion.
5. Anybody who stands for an office, whether cantonal or national level, has to stand as a
private or group candidate. For the electorate this will be confusing as it will not be easy for them
to see the candidates policy.
6. This is a new system which has never been applied before, and it is hard to forecast the
complication which might arise during its implementation.
NOTES
1
. Much of the introduction I have taken from Abdisalam M Issa-Salwe, The Collapse of the Somali State, 1994).
2
. Erich Fromm, The Fear of Freedom, 1980, pp.155-56.
3
. Ibid., p.158.
4
. Maxamed D. Afrax, The Mirror of Culture, in Catastrophe to Renewal? ed. Ahmed I. Samatar, 1994, pp.233-251.
5
. Ibid, p. 239.
6
. Ahmed I. Samatar, Socialist Somalia, 1988, p.49.
7
. I have worked out this alternative in January 1990. Because of the change of the situation in Somalia and the
subsequent collapse of the Somali unitary state system, I had to alter few detail to meet the new development.
8
. Eli Sagan, At The Dawn of Tyranny, 1986, p.225.
9
. I M Lewis, A Pastoral Democracy, 1961, p.1.
10
. Mohammed I. Farah, From Ethnic Response to Clan Identity, (Doctoral Dissertation at Uppsala University,
Uppsala 1993), pp.43-44.
11
. I M Lewis, A Pastoral Democracy, op. cit. pp.36-89.
12
. Ali Moussa Iye, Le Verdic de L'Arbre (Go'aankii Geedka), by Lidwien Kapteijn in Hal-Abuur, Vol.I, No.1,
Summer 1993, pp.33-35.
13
. Ibid., p.198.
14
. Though it can hardly be called democratic as women and other marginalized group are excluded from the meeting.
15
. I M Lewis, A Pastoral Democracy, op. cit., pp.196-200
16
. Ahmed I. Samatar, Socialist Somalia, op. cit. p.49.
17
The Somali version: Qaranka Daryeelka ee Ummadda Soomaaliyeed (QDUS).
18
. J. Denis Derbyshire and Ian Derbyshire, World Political System, 1991, pp.150-60.
19
Charlotte Waterlow, What is Federalism? 1994, p.7.
20
Ibid., pp.7-8.
21
. I.M. Lewis, A Modern History of Somalia, 1980, p.205.
22
. Ali Mazrui, and Michael Tidy; Nationalism and New States of Africa, (Nairobi: Heinemann, 1984). p.226.
23
. Ibid, p.76
24
. J. Denis Derbyshire and Ian Derbyshire, World Political Systems, op. cit. p.175

REFERENCES
Afrax, Maxamed D. ; The Mirror of Culture: Somali Dissolution Seen Through Oral Expression in
The Somali Challenge: From Catastrophe to Renewal? ed. Ahmed I. Samatar, (Boulder,
Colorado: Lynne Rienner Publishers, 1994).
Derbyshire J. Denis; and Derbyshire, Ian; World Political Systems: An Introduction to Comparative
Government, (Edinburgh: W & R Chambers Ltd., 1991).
Farah, Mohammed I.; From Ethnic Response to Clan Identity: A Study of State Penetration among
the Somali Nomadic Pastoral Society of Northeastern Kenya, (Doctoral Dissertation at
Uppsala University, Uppsala 1993).
Fromm, Erich; The Fear of Freedom, (London: Routledge & Kegan Paule, 1980).
Issa-Salwe, Abdisalam M; The Collapse of the Somali State: The Impact of the Colonial Legacy,
(London: Haan Associates, 1996).
Kapteijn, Lidwien; Le Verdic de L'Arbre (Go'aankii Geedka): Le Xeer Issa, etude d'une "Democratie
Pastorale", by Ali Moussa Iye, in Hal-Abuur, Vol.I, No.1, Summer 1993.
Lewis, I M ; A Pastoral Democracy, (London: Oxford University Press, 1961).
------- Modern History of Somalia: Nation and State in the Horn of Africa (London: Longman,
1980).
Mazrui, Ali; and Michael Tidy; Nationalism and New States of Africa, (Nairobi: Heinemann, 1984).
Sagan, Eli; At The Dawn of Tyranny: The Origins of Individualism, Political Oppression, and the
State, (London: Faber and Faber, 1986).
Samatar, Ahmed I.; Socialist Somalia: Rhetoric and Reality, (London Zed Books Ltd, 1988).
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One World Trust Publication, 1994)..

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