Position of PM should not be a political chess piece
EDITORIAL | The delays in the nomination, and subsequent approval, of a new Prime Minister in Somalia, is a matter of concern and which should be urgently addressed.
More than a month after Hassan Khaire was ousted in a controversial vote of no confidence, President Mohamed Farmaajo has not come forth to appoint his replacement. Instead, the country has been run under the acting capacity of Mahdi Gulaid as interim Prime Minister since July.
The problem with this arrangement is not that Mr. Guled is incompetent or lacks the know-how to do the job. The danger is in his legal position. For example, what can he or can he not do as acting Premier? Under the Somali Provisional Constitution, the Prime Minister, appointed by the President, is the head of government. He has powers to “appoint and dismiss members of the Council of Ministers" as well as present names on the Council, and other government programs before Parliament [Lower House] for approvals.
As neither Mr. Guled nor his acting Council of Ministers has received any of these legal shields, Somalia is technically running under a ‘caretaker’ government. Guled cannot appoint a new cabinet, he cannot fire any member of the Council of Ministers. His position makes him, and his acting Council, lame-duck, or simply a ceremonial head of government at the mercy of the President.
Which is why we would like to ask the President to make a decisive step. We could either have Mr. Guled formally nominated for Parliament to check his credentials and hopefully approve him. Or we could have someone else, a competent Somali citizen who can do the job.
Somalia’s moment becomes riskier as long as no substantive Prime Minister is appointed urgently. But first, it renders the accusations leveled against Mr. Khaire and his failure’s irony. Khaire was accused of stalling the electoral program including providing resources to achieve the initially expected one person one vote.
A recent agreement in Dhusamareb, between President Farmaajo and federal state presidents of Hirshabelle, South West, Galmudug, and the Mayor of Benadir, said the next election in Somalia will be under electoral constituency caucuses.
Those caucuses are to be nominated by electoral bodies. While Parliament will have to debate the proposal and hopefully approve it, the absence of a Prime Minister could bring back fears that the planning for that elections may still be delayed. The PM has to ensure sufficient resources are provided to the electoral commission. But he is not there.
Which brings us to the second problem. Grapevine has had it that the President has deliberately delayed the PM appointment so he can do political horse-trading with it. When Khaire issued a warning on the likelihood of a delayed election plunging Somalia into a crisis, President Farmaajo promptly assured there won’t be delays.
Now that he is gone, it is unlikely they read from the same script. But it would be unwise to use the PM’s post as a political chess piece. Somalis wanted universal suffrage which won’t happen. They also wanted a timely free and fair election. This shouldn’t be a heavy demand; given they already fell from the sun to the moon.
The President, of course, has any right to appoint any Somali citizen to serve in any capacity. He also has a right to negotiate appointments with any political wing, opposition orally. But to delay the appointment and use it for personal ambitions would be a disservice to the country.
When Khaire was ousted in record time, under ten minutes, without a proper motion nor an order paper; critics charged it may have been illegal. But the President immediately accepted the decision. We hope he can use the same haste to replace him.