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Return of impugned Speaker spells more betrayals and troubles for Somalia

Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, former Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Finance, has usurped the Speaker’s position of the Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) through a deplorable process that lacked concern for rule of law and good governance. This comes in the light of publicized allegations of political scandals and embezzlement of public funds against him as former Speaker of Parliament and then as Minister of Finance.

This latest move was to formalize his power as a second in-command in the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) though many believed that he has held the real power in the current TFG. On the other hand, his calculated take-over of the Speaker’s position kills the argument that there was a Djibouti peace process between two combating parties. Power is completely in the hands of the two Sharifs, former leaders of Alliance for Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS), who claim a special bond. The new Prime Minister will be Ethiopia’s ally and their collaborator.

It is not an exaggeration or blaming the devil to point out that foreign power(s) wanted this political upheaval within TFG for different reasons. The role of Ethiopia is particular because controversies among Somalis aids Ethiopia’s manipulations of Somali Politics. Against the Djibouti Government’s efforts to stop TFG infighting, Ethiopia prevailed in the removal of former Speaker of TFP, Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur, an old ally for more chaos, schisms and humiliations so to achieve its ultimate goal of “irreconcilable Somalia” and candidate for partition and annexation.

On October 6, 2005, Speaker Sharif said “In my view, Ethiopia does not want a functioning Government in Somalia and I want to see that the world knows this. Even if Ethiopia does want a government here, it wants fiefdom government-multiple governments which are all weak.” Thus, this time Sharif Hassan serves Ethiopia for humiliating the Somalis who believed and supported him for above-mentioned political position, and signaling them to follow the reformed Sharif. The main lesson for the Somalis from this political gambit is that politics is hypocrisy, dishonesty, care of foreign interests over national interests for personal gains.

Today, Ethiopia has officially three “Controlling Offices” euphemistically called “Consulates” in Somalia: Mogadishu, Hargeisa and Garowe. President Sheikh Sharif and Speaker Sharif Hassan are presented as the promoters of establishing the “Puntland Controlling Office.”

The former Speaker, Adan M. Nur, expressed his anger and frustration over the unlawful campaign against him, masterfully orchestrated by his long-time political rival Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden who as Minister of Finance had the resources and opportunity to bribe more than 200 Members of Parliament (MPs) for their support. The shift of Sharif Hassan to the Speaker’s position spells more betrayals and troubles for Somalia. His opportunistic strategy of a quid pro quo for personal gain in the context of addressing national complex problems has produced devastating results for the country and people of Somalia, and embarrassing human rights abuses and catastrophic humanitarian situation for the international community as well.

The upheaval begun in January 2010 when Mohamed Qanyare Afrah, ex Warlord and MP, declared to the Media without legal basis but with understandable reasons to the Somalis that the term of the TFP Leadership ended in August 2009. The Transitional Federal Charter (TFC), illegally amended in Djibouti, doesn’t mention term limit for the Speaker and his two Deputies. The official mediators of Djibouti process- the Djibouti Government and the UN Special Representative- did not support Mohamed Qanyare’s claim. The deliberately ignored procedure for Speaker’s removal was to present a Parliamentary motion, conduct Parliamentary debate and take vote of confidence.  

Ultimately, President Sharif playing innocent role convinced the Speaker to resign from his position with the apparent commitment that he will fire the Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke who conspired with the Finance Minister’s unjustified attack. President Sharif has announced the PM’s dismissal but after two days he rescinded his decision and the PM and his Cabinet remain in Office. The expectation is formation of new Council of Ministers in accordance with a “secret plan” hatched up in Addis Ababa, which directs merger of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama with the TFG and expulsion of Ministers from Mogadishu Resistance against Ethiopia’s invasion and pro-Arab Ministers. A contrary direction will trigger new political upheaval.

It can be anticipated that the International Management Groups responsible for Somalia will spin the unlawful ousting of the former Speaker by describing it as a sign of progress, example of democratic success in the sense that it took place in Mogadishu, the Capital of Somalia after 20 years of civil conflict, a portrayal insignificant to the reality of the Country. While President Sheikh Sharif has declared in Istanbul, Turkey that the TFG employs 7,000 police and 10,000 military forces, AMISOM forces from Uganda have provided security for both the Parliament’s meeting and the Speaker himself. The Friday scene of Parliament was not much different from the scenes of 2000 and 2004 in Djibouti and Kenya respectively.

The performance of the Parliamentary Committee selected to conduct the “Speaker’s election process” deserves condemnation and repudiation. The Committee, fully aware of the year long hiatus of Parliament sessions, did not make any reasonable efforts to notify all MPs to return to the Country. About 30 % of the 550 MPs were absent. The Committee failed to provide reasons and justifications for the absence of such a large number of MPs.

Ineffectual but significant, the Supreme Court intervened in the Parliamentary Process and issued Order to delay the Speaker’s election date for 5 days which was not far off and needed in evaluating properly, among other matters, the complaints of corruption duly submitted by the Parliamentary Committee on Oversight and Accountability.  Disrespectfully, the Chairman of Parliamentary Committee rejected Court Order out of hand. This was not a responsible way to handle the Supreme Court Order. The Committee did not satisfactorily explore ways to verify the compliance with the requirements of Article 31 of TFC related to the eligibility of all candidates for the Speaker’s position. Inappropriately, President Sharif intervened and suspended the Court Order without proper explanation and forced the holding of the “election” as scheduled on Friday, a very special holiday for Muslims.  

In consideration of the vote results, one can argue that the Speaker lacks the required votes of confidence. Only 388 MPs were present. The Speaker received 217 votes of MPs out of 550 MPs or 39.45 % of MPS. 171 MPs or 31.10 % voted against him and 162 MPs or 29.45% were absent. The total percentage of absentees and nays is 60.55 %. In other words, on the basis of the clan formula of 4.5, one can point out that the Speaker has received the support of only the MPs of 1.5 clans. This proves the lack of concern for rule of law and good governance as particularly emphasized in the TFC and lack of great sensibility needed in the Transitional period of rebuilding Somali State.

In two interviews with VOA, Speaker Sharif Hassan has made three premonitory statements. First he argued that the Supreme Court has nothing to do with Parliamentary Affairs which could mean in his view that the Speaker and the Parliamentarians are above the law. In fact, the Speaker has completely and arrogantly ignored the accusations and complains made by the Parliamentary Committee on Oversight and Accountability, the Media and the International bodies. As Minister of Finance for 15 months, he has never provided account of public resource management under his supreme authority. The incomplete information on government revenue released by the Minister of Revenue strengthened the public and International Community assertions about TFG’s inability to function neither as a Government nor as Regional Authority. The Government says it collects monthly less than 1 million dollars. In nutshell, the Speaker pays no attention to the significance of the checks and balance principle built in the TFC.

Second, the Speaker stated that his main priority is to make changes in the Charter and Parliamentary Regulation. He did not spell out his intention, but the statement carries ominous developments that will lead to illegal and political abuses. In Somalia, illegal precedents have become legitimate practices and justifications for continuation of abuses.

Finally, the Speaker noted that under his leadership, TFG will work as a parliamentary government system which could mean that Parliament will act on issues the Council of Ministers has not developed policy position. This kind of understanding presages disasters for all.    

Mr. Mohamud M Uluso


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