EDITORIAL | There are certain things about Mogadishu that every Somali often agrees with. First, the city has existed for most of the last 11 centuries, has an important port city and is a major business center in the Horn of Africa. It is also the capital of Somalia.
At present, however, much of the debate surrounding Mogadishu is political over 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 the leadership run by a mayor.
Or it could be like Berlin in Germany, one of the 16 federal states with an independent local mayor and his cabinet as well as a local legislature. In another situation, Mogadishu could simply run under authority, as Kampala does, created by [federal] to provide services such as sanitation, public health and other utilities.
Still, there are high stakes for how to proceed. We understand that clans, political inclinations, personal interests and possible outside interference have conspired to either stiffen the positions of stakeholders or block communication channels between them. This should not be the case.
This week, set up an ad hoc committee of the Federal Parliament to seek solutions for the future administration of the city, concluding its sessions by proposing in a draft that seven more legislators should be elected from the city to represent the capital region, which is generally known as Benadir in the upper house.
The committee is expected to formally present these proposals by the end of this month. But there may be legal issues even before the committee publishes its proposal. The Benadir region, where Mogadishu falls, and which is sometimes described interchangeably with the city, is the only municipality in Somalia. All the other 17 regions that they existed in the Siad Barre days have since fallen into the various federal member states (FMS).
Mogadishu is even more special. Article 9 of the Provisional Constitution for 2012 clearly declares the capital of the Federal Republic of Somalia. The same supreme law, however, indicates that its final status will be determined in Somalia’s new constitution when it is drafted, but the Federal Parliament “adopts a special law on this issue.”
The parliamentary committee’s proposal may not fall within the scope of the specific legal provision, although it appears to be part of a constitutional review planned in the Provisional Supreme Law. In particular, the Upper House has the task of conducting constitutional reviews, which is why the addition of members from the Benadir region could lead to constitutional chaos.
The question now is whether additional senators can be accepted in the Upper House while retaining a provisional constitution that sets the limit at 54 members.
Axadlenotes that there were valid reasons when Somalia was placed in the federal structure. Puntland, Jubaland, Hirshabelle, South West and Galmudug were created either because they had better local administrative structure or apparently to reassure perennial clan factions or
Now the status of Mogadishu, which hosts most of the clan that is dominant in various federal states, requires careful discussions between the federal government of Somalia and these states.
But President Mohamed Farmajo’s time has seen a problematic relationship between Mogadishu and federal states. As elections approach, this relationship needs to improve.
As for the capital, it is encouraging that almost all political leaders agree that Mogadishu should remain the seat of government.
But no one knows how to drive it. It is a symptom of lack of communication between stakeholders. It was encouraging Thursday to hear that some channels were opening up between FGS and FMS. Still their disagreement.
The 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 obstacle would be whether a constitutional amendment can be made only on Benadir’s situation, while other pending issues hang.
Already, the state of Puntland had denied the use of the longer 4.5 system, arguing that it was archaic. Somalia has also not addressed the model for elections, boundaries of constituencies, and how women and particular groups are elected, and by whom.
Several questions could arise during the political process, as if Somalis can proceed to polls while locked in Mogadishu.
It is very sad that the status of the capital region has always proved to be a last minute AOB in every election year.
It is clear that the status of Mogadishu has not created agreement, so we may never know, for now, what type of administration will exist here. Faced with tougher constitutional timelines, the capital of 3 million inhabitants from different clans must surely be given priority this time.
They deserve to know the status of their city as soon as possible.