By Leyla Qasim
Somalia’s president has accepted the decision to remove Khaire, citing the need to preserve the unity of various arms of government [File: Feisal Omar/Reuters]
Looking at PM Khaire’s removal as an opportunity in a crisis, the country can emerge better for it. A silver lining for Somalia’s politicians at various stations to show leadership and steal greatness at mending their country has opened up in Khaire’s irregular firing. Parliament, its leadership, and President Farmajo will be the biggest losers if this window of opportunity closes to the country.
On account of the crisis lurks opportunity for compromise and consensus-building or ratcheting up on unilateralism. Failure for both options doesn’t bode well for Somalia as it could plunge it back into chaos and reverse all the gains made over two decades of painstaking peace- and state-building through consensus building.
Prime Minister Khaire’s removal from office could prove the panacea to the political tension over the 2020/21 transitional process in a different way than the crafters ever contemplated.
The country has been held hostage by the “qabyo” phenomenon. Critical transitional tasks left deliberately incomplete for political longevity. Despite shouting the loudest and posturing the grandest, Nabad iyo Nolol is all about fraudulent fail when measured against key transitional mandate: completing the constitutional review process, legislative agenda, completing federalism, democratization and elections, judicial and security sector reforms, etc.
Both Parliament and the Executive are guilty of shortchanging the public in total betrayal to their sworn oath of office. This is what parliament’s no-confidence vote on the Prime Minister was about only that it wasn’t the real reason for his removal, which makes the dismissal even more tragic to the extent of scapegoating the national for the personal.
To overcome this stubborn problem:
1.- Parliament should redeem itself midway by impeaching the president as a corrective course. This paves the way for Speaker Murasal’s constitutional interim presidency and Mudey as the acting speaker. Using this window, Speaker Mursal and Parliament then convene a national consensus-building convention to prepare the country for the election of an interim president on a two-year term charged with the completion of pre-agreed essential transitional tasks based on the strict roadmap.
This proposition is premised on the continuation of the current parliament (both houses) for a further two years.
The interim president and prime minister who will be ineligible to offer themselves as candidates in the next presidential elections will be mandated for preparing and delivering the country for a transparent, free and fair, one-person-one-vote universal suffrage elections. This is aimed at removing the element of self-interest to slow or stymie the implementation of crucial transitional tasks. Within these two years, the interim government will also be required to complete all the remaining transition tasks such as the constitution, federalism, National/Somaliland reconciliation, judicial and security sector reforms, economic and financial reforms in line with SMP/debt relief processes.
2.- Indirect impeachment: impeaching the prime minister could have been the easiest for the president. Getting approval for his next PM nominee could prove his biggest challenge. Parliament’s survival is no longer dependent on the president. Once he helped parliament impeach the PM, a sworn obstacle to term extension, he outlived his usefulness to parliament. Now it’s the president who is need of parliamentary support for his political survival. It can not only cut the president’s term unexpectedly short, but it can also shred the president’s further political ambitions to its mortal conclusion. This through the simple maneuver of twice or trice rejecting his PM nominee, especially if they come through the non-consultative process.
While Nanad iyo Nolol is never one to be subdued through such simple technicalities, its strong support in parliament would make it impossible hedge it against such improbability. Failure for such a scheme to succeed will act as further proof that opposition groups (FNP, FMSs, other political associations) amount to nothingness in the face of Nabad iyo Nolol behemoth.
The expectation that it could prove herculean to get parliamentary approval for president Farmajo’s PM nominee is premised on the assumption in addition to his anti-extension pandering; PM Khaire also fell victim to other coalesced interests to have him removed. That those who MPs who wanted to get to the president through the PM’s impeachment had him sign his political euthanasia and they will wait in ambush to deny his nominee chance for approval.
3.- The other window of opportunity is for parliament to take up the leadership and force the president to remain faithful and remain committed to Dhusamareeb consensus-building process. One of the ways to guaranteeing this is to ensure the next prime minister is selected and approved through a participatory, consensus-based process.
This should be anchored on pre-negotiated agreement on the formation of a government of national unity. To unshackle their hands to freely engage with all parties under the auspices of Dhusamareeb platform, the Prime Minister must be guaranteed free hand to discharge their mandate. For example, they should be unimpeachable and also be rendered ineligible to contest in the next presidential elections to remove self-interest to the extent possible in addition to guaranteeing them a parliamentary seat from their constituency or even an honorary/complimentary one for that matter.
For this option to succeed, key international actors must demonstrate that they are serious and ready to apply their leverage. Otherwise, the process will drag on with the potential to result in a break down and gains reversal.
4.- Let the strongest/weakest win: If truth be told, the current government (Nabad iyo Nolol) has generated enough public goodwill and semblance of the preponderance of force with which to advance its dictates. Left to its own devices without the IC’s interventions to balance it out or tilt the balance against it, Nabad iyo Nolol is most certainly to squeeze a term extension for itself from the crisis and guarantee itself re-election in the next elections without adverse consequence.
Unconstitutional? Yes, but most of Somalia’s major national decisions and processes have been illegal. The establishment and the three arms of the federal government, as currently constituted, is unconstitutional. The two last parliamentary and presidential elections were all products of unconstitutionality. They were merely based on consensus and political settlements and so-called gentleman agreements. So, unconstitutionality should not be selectively applied to be used as an obstacle to stop the country from righting stubborn wrongs.
A pure reflection on Khaire’s administration will leave one lividly infuriated about his double standard when he cried wolf about parliament’s procedural breach on his removal. Remember how Khaire bared his rogue-ness and broke all civility — the law, procedure, fairness and justice– in his shameless unilateral appointment of his crony as central bank governor. How his office brazenly transgressed laid down bureaucracy, usurped ministries and government agencies’ authority to execute its mandates by making them subordinate to extortionist strangers (private consultants) illegally operating from his office. Enough for the procedure!
In conclusion, in Khaire’s removal, an opportunity to steal greatness has opened up to all political actors in Somalia. Depending on whether the country’s leaders seize or let this opportunity to slip out of their hands, Somalia will be for better or for worse.