Center for Peace and Democracy (CPD)

Saturday, October 15, 2005

The Speaker is in a Unique Quandary of his Own Making

The other day, Hon.Mowliid Macaane made an interesting statement, a statement to the effect that the Speaker is a one-tape man, and that his tape almost exclusively contains monotonous repetitions of “The Charter, The Charter, The Charter…”. It is an interesting observation in that since last March and now during his aimless whirlwind world tour, the Speaker has been hurling accusations against the government that it has made gross violations of the Charter. The question is, do the accusations of the Speaker stand sturdy legal scrutiny? You be the judge!

You would recall that the last time that the parliament sat down last March to debate the merits of inviting African Protection forces to safeguard the security of the institutions of the fledging government, the debate ended in a most shameful debacle. Not only did the speaker try to force a motion with a questionable legality, he also allowed himself to veer from a Speaker’s traditional time-honored role of impartiality, neutrality, and disinterestedness vis avis the political affairs of the day. At the time, he and his allies (ironically, a speaker can not have allies within the parliament) claimed that they passed a motion that rejected inclusion of any front-line states in the proposed peace-keeping forces. Although the motion was a farce, the President and the Prime Minister, after consultations with IGAD, proposed to deploy a modest force comprising of Sudanese and Ugandan forces, thereby satisfying a key demand of the opposition- which was not to include front-like states in the proposed forces . It should be noted, however, that at that time, both Prime Minister Ghedi and the President Yusuf made it abundantly clear that the government was headed to Mogadishu and that these modest non-front line state forces would help protect the institutions of the government. From here on, events took on a rather comical and tragic angle.

Immediately after the Parliament fiasco, former Mogadishu warlords, now turned Cabinet Ministers, bolted out to Mogadishu and, in a strange fit of contrived nationalism, proclaimed that they would not let foreign forces in to the capital, since they, nationalist that they are, were well prepared to disarm Mogadishu and take all the Isbaaros out of sight. Their irrational rationale was that since Mogadishu was “supposedly” a clan specific city, its clean-up called for a clan specific approach. Never mind that these warlords were cabinet ministers and that their Chief Minister, Prime Minister Ghedi was calling for a national and an institutional approach to the clean up of Mogadishu. Never mind also that Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Interior Hussein Aidiid on record warned these warlords/Ministers that the disarmament of Mogadishu militias was and should be a governmental prerogative that must be approached on an institutional basis. The Mogadishu warlords ignored these warnings and this constituted one of the most blatant violations of the Charter to which these minters were sworn to. How can members of a council of ministers ignore the instructions of their Prime Minister and their Deputy prime minister, and then start running a parallel government in Mogadishu to work on issues that they were not mandated to work on.

At this point, the Speaker of the house, Hon. Sharif Hassan, Aden should have stepped on the plate to diffuse this constitutional crisis by convening a meeting of the parliament to debate about this and other issues. One way out would have been to make sure that the debate gets focused since the Mogadishu warlords, besides being creatures unburdened by conscience, were/are also known to keep changing the goal posts on issues.
For example, the Speaker should have re-tabled the issue of forces deployment, and tried to find consensus. This is precisely what the President’s recommendations were both verbally and in writing back in March and April when he requested that the Speaker re-open a session of the Parliament for further debate. Unfortunately, the Speaker did not heed this call and instead joined the Mogadishu warlords in their misguided attempt to obfuscate the issues.
he spectacle of the speaker gyrating from hotel to hotel in Mogadishu, acting as a head waiter to the Mogadishu warlords and speechifying about the decommissioning of the militias out of the city was very laughable. But it should not be taken as a joke because the Speaker, who has lately been talking about the “Charter, Charter”, like a broken tape as Hon.Mowliid Macaane has correctly described it, was not only aiding and abetting those who willfully stomped on the charter, but he was equally guilty by trampling on the Charter that he helped birth in Mbgathi.
If the Speaker was intent to play hide and seek with the Mogadishu warlords, who were by now clearly not interested in playing their rightful places within the government as Ministers, he should have done the right thing and abdicated his position as the speaker of the parliament and proclaimed himself as a member of an opposition group which would keep the government in its toes.
A Speaker of parliament can not take part in the deliberation of national issues; his/her sole role is to keep the decorum of the house and also to keep parliamentary committees moving ion issues. But the poor Speaker was by then sucked too deep in to the corruption of the Charter as the Mogadishu web-based media and radios have hyped him and whipped him into believing that he was a national hero in the order of the late Hon.Abduallahi Isse.
Some hero! Most unfortunately, the hapless speaker fell for this hype, lock and step. It did also help that some sore-loser politicians, most notably Dr. Ali Kahlif Galaydh egged the speaker on to continue in his new false role as national hero.
To hear Dr. Galaydh on the Radios assert that the disarmament of Mogadishu militia should be left to Mogadishu warlords and the Speaker was not only intellectually dishonest, but it also flew in the face of all of the scholarship of Public Administration, a discipline that the good Doctor is an expert on. In effect, Dr. Galaydh was tacitly instructing these Cabinet Ministers to engage in subordination and to defy their Prime Minister. I have long detected a case of Schadenfreud towards the Gehdi/Yusuf government on the part of Dr. Galaydh and his numerous groupies but we will leave that for psychologists for the time being, won’t we?.

Six months after Mogadishu Trioka and the Speaker began their pyrotechnics in Mogadishu, they have nothing to show for all the smoke and mirrors.: Mogadishu is still mired in violence; the Check points are still there in full force and by some estimates have even increased; a spate of assassinations are being carried out against prominent Somali nationals as well as foreigners, and the militias that have most ceremoniously been encamped by the Speaker and the warlords have now decamped and ran away in frustration.

Moreover, six months after moving to Mogadishu to protest against inclusion of front-like states in any peacekeeping agenda, the Mogadishu warlords have once again moved the goal posts on issues and are cleverly obfuscating the issues. A few months ago, they began to rage against the government for making Jowhar the provisional capital of the government. Yet they forget that the government’s decision was a response to their own inaction and also a rather perfect and logical move, given the fact that these warlords refused to follow through with the government’s plan to pacify the capital.
Bizarre as it may seem, their latest fetish now for which they are working on feverishly but fruitlessly is to come up with a working plan for the formation of a regional administration for the Banadir region. This, after the Prime Minister and the Deputy Prime Minister/e Minister of Interior have already put that administration in place. True to form, they are good at forever circling the wagon.

My lord! How did we get to here and move from discussion of peacekeeping forces in March to the Jowhar issue and now to the local administration of Banadir ? How? Why?

There is a fundamental reason why this is happening and why the issues get mixed up every time that that Somali agenda tries to inch itself towards a positive direction. There are powerful and criminal vested interests in the country that prefer the status quo over a functioning government. This is reflected in the recent findings of the UN Arms Embargo Monitoring Group whose report in part read as follows: “
Those opposing the government are the same individuals who have been identified in past reports of the Monitoring Group as warlords who have demonstrated through their actions and activities that they do not want to see a government established in Somalia that would infringe or overturn their personal, political and economic vested interests……..A number of these same individuals have well established and entrenched local administrations that are a reflection of their vested interests” Needless to say that these vested interests are vast criminal enterprises which include drug cartels, illegal fishing, environmental terrorism and feudal control of helpless communities.

So from the foregoing, it becomes clear that this perilous political impasse is not because the President and the Prime Minister have violated the Charter as the speaker would have us believe. To the contrary, it is the Speaker and the Mogadishu warlords that have stomped on the both the letter and the spirit of the Charter every step of the way. Moreover, as the UN report correctly notes, we are at this impasse precisely because the warlords want to continue with the status quo and prolong our collective agony in order to preserve their personal lucrative criminal enterprises.

Now, will the speaker acknowledge the facts as the UN has, discard his one-message tape, disown his past mistakes and come back to his sworn duty of Speaker of the Somali parliament? It is not much to ask and if he does thus, he will help himself out of this quandary.

Abdurahman Hosh Jibril - E-mail:
Toronto, Canada


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