Thursday, April 18, 2024
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State Building: Reconstruction from bottom up

WardheerNews Editorial

Section 1 of Article 1 of the Somali Draft Constitution starts with these solemn words:  “Somalia is a federal, sovereign, and democratic republic founded on inclusive representation of the people and a multiparty system and social justice.” President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and his incoming administration must inject new energy to resuscitate the weakened federal system of Somalia.

It is a good first step that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud pays a swift and focused visit to Baydhabo only a week after he won the presidency. WardheerNews would like to read this timely visit as a positive sign and a badly needed reconstruction of the relationship between Villa Somalia and Federal Member States. 

Somalia’s Federal System – photo credit PDRC

In general the relation has been rocky; reconstruction is and must be a priority for the new administration. 

In principle, Somalia’s federal system calls for vertical and horizontal power sharing. Often, we focus on the vertical usually driven by political entrepreneurs who seek positions at the federal level. In the race to clinch ministerial positions, the horizontal relationship between Villa Somalia and federal member states is sacrificed. 

Article 48 of the constitution calls for the establishment of six competent federal member states. To have a successful federal structure, the federal member states must function administratively as well as economically. The new administration must prioritize the principles of good governence and to help stabilize the regions.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohmoud is credited to have established and completed the formation of most of the federal member states in his first term (2012-2017). However, in the last five years there has been a general weakness politically and administratively exhibited by federal member states. That is not a desirable scenario for a federal structure to succeed.

Not only one factor is responsible for this mishap. There are factors that can be attributed to the regularization of Alshabab terror networks. There are also some states whose administrative structures never took off. It is not something to take pride as a nation to have states where a modicum of administration exists only in the administrative capital. 

Eight or ten years are too long to fail to establish a regional administration so that services can be equitably delivered to all Somalis both urban and rural.  Still, others have been undermined by over-ambitious leaders who mistakenly made the state a private project. 

A sustained out-migration of bureaucrats and administrators from regional institutions in favor of Mogadishu has undermined expected improvement of federal member states’ administrations. Even hitherto stronger and more established federal member states like Puntland have lately shown endemic erosion of good governance. Many seasoned ministers and political figures have been intentionally diverted to become legislators for shorter political gains.

Former President Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo was feasible hostile to some of the leaders of federal member states. This factor also largely contributed to the weakening of the horizontal linkage between Villa Somalia and some of the states of the federation. For a federal system to work, there has to be a healthy synergy cultivated between Villa Somalia and the country’s federal member states.


  • The president’s planned visit to Baydhabo is a positive step and a visit to the rest of the Federal Member States capitals have to follow.
  • Without succumbing to clan pressure, the President should stick to his rational and reasonable appointment of the next Prime Minister – a competent and highly regarded technocrat who can deliver on the President’s multi-faceted objectives for the next 4 years.
  • Consider to limit the number of legislatures appointed for ministerial portfolio until a constitutional amendment is drafted to separate executive appointments from the legislative branch. 
  • Expand the portfolio of the Ministry of Interior and Federal Affairs to include and be in charge of federal member states ’ building effective and efficient institutions’. This could also mean to have and establish subsidiary offices of major ministries.   

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