Somalis deserve to know status of Mogadishu as soon as possible
EDITORIAL | There are certain things about Mogadishu which every Somali often agrees. First, is the city has been in existence for most of the last 11 centuries, has an important seaport, and is a major business center in the Horn of Africa. It is also the capital of Somalia.
Currently, though, much of the debate around Mogadishu is political, on how it should be run. Like many other capitals in the world, Mogadishu could be like Washington, DC; where the federal government through Congress directly influences management run by a mayor.
Or it could be like Berlin in Germany, one of the 16 federal states with an autonomous local mayor and his cabinet as well as a local legislature. In another situation, Mogadishu could simply run under the authority, as Kampala does, created by the [federal] government, to provide services like sanitation, public health, and other utilities.
Yet there are high stakes on how to go about it. We understand that clans, political leanings, personal interests, and possible outside interference have conspired to either stiffen stakeholders’ positions or block communication channels between them. This shouldn’t be the case.
This week, an ad-hoc committee of the Federal Parliament created to seek solutions on the future administration of the City closed its sessions by suggesting, in a draft, that seven more legislators be picked from the city to represent the capital region generally known as Benadir in the Upper House.
That committee is expected at the end of this month to formally present those proposals. But there could be legal questions even before the committee publicizes its suggestion. Benadir region in which Mogadishu falls, and which sometimes is described interchangeably with the city, is the only municipality in Somalia. All the other 17 regions, as they existed during the Siad Barre days, have since fallen into the various federal member states (FMS).
Mogadishu is even more special. Article 9 of the 2012 Provisional Constitution clearly declares as the capital city of the Federal Republic of Somalia. However, the same supreme law indicates that its final status will be determined in the new Constitution of Somalia when it’s is drawn up, but the Federal Parliament “shall enact a special law with regards to this issue.”
The suggestion by the parliamentary committee may not fall under that special law clause, even though it appears to be part of a constitutional review envisaged in the provisional supreme law. The Upper House is especially tasked with leading constitutional reviews, which is why adding members from the Benadir region could bring constitutional chaos.
The question, now, is whether additional senators can be accepted into the Upper House while retaining a provisional constitution that sets the limit of 54 members.
Garowe Online observes that there were valid reasons when Somalia was placed in the federal structure. Puntland, Jubaland, Hirshabelle, South West and Galmudug states were created either because they had better local administrative structure or to ostensibly to calm perennial clan factions or
Now, the status of Mogadishu, being host to most of the clan dominant in various federal states requires careful discussions between the federal government of Somalia and those states.
But President Mohamed Farmaajo’s tenure has seen a problematic relationship between Mogadishu and federal states. As elections approach, this relationship must have to improve.
Concerning the capital, it is encouraging that nearly all political leaders agree that Mogadishu should remain the seat of government.
But nobody knows how it should be run. That is a symptom of lack of communication between stakeholders. It was encouraging on Thursday to learn that some channels were opening up between the FGS and FMS. Still, their disagreements.
Benadir region which, unlike federal states, is administered by a mayor, could probably get more senators through the controversial clan-based 4.5 system. The hurdle would be whether a constitutional amendment can be made just on the situation of Benadir while leaving other pending issues hanging.
Already, Puntland state had refused the use of anymore 4.5 system, arguing it was archaic. Somalia has also not addressed the model of elections, boundaries for constituencies, and how women and special groups will be elected and by whom.
More questions could emerge in the course of the political process such as whether Somalis can proceed to polls while deadlocked on Mogadishu.
It is very sad that the status of the capital city region has always emerged as a last-minute AOB in every election year.
It is clear the status of Mogadishu has not generated consensus, so we may never know, for now, what type of administration will exist here. Faced with tougher constitutional timelines, the capital of 3 million residents, from different clans, must surely be given priority this time.
They deserve to know the status of their city as soon as possible.