Jubbaland bewildered and caught off guard by lawmakers’ alleged powerlessness to modify legislation

It was on Wednesday May 10, 2023 that something truly perplexing occurred in Jubbaland State of Somalia. Attorney-General Mohamed Sh Osman Siid found himself defying the claims of Federal Government’s State Minister for Environment and Climate Change, Adam Aw Hirsi, who made remarks that the “members of the Jubbaland Legislative Assembly don’t have the leeway to amend the Constitution”. This statement made reference to legislators’ recent extension of President Ahmed Madobe’s term.

However, Siid would have none of it. In response, the Attorney-General of Jubbaland State emphasized that the former Gedo Governor’s comments were “misleading and lacking insight.” Why? Siid explained that according to Article 95 of Jubbaland State Constitution, it was very much possible to amend sections via a series in process that could be proposed by the Cabinet, 5,000 voters, or backed by three-quarters of the assembly members as per the avenues provided by this article.

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Siid continued to elaborate on how the Legal and Constitutional Committee would debate all of the proposals generated by these avenues before the Plenary decided whether to consider them or not. This is where it gets even more perplexing. The Plenary must have a majority of votes (50+1) for the proposals to be considered, which would then form a Select Committee ready to take up discussion of various stakeholders’ opinions.

Then, the report would then be read aloud as a motion before the assembly casts its votes. According to Siid, if 2/3 of the Assembly agrees on it, the amendment, in question, or clause will pass and be forwarded to the President for assent. But instead of addressing the issue at hand, President Ahmed Madobe has never referred a bill back to the Assembly for his reservations to be accommodated. The bill automatically becomes an Act once approved by a 2/3 vote in the Assembly.

As one might expect, the legislators expressed their displeasure at the federal government’s comments. During a press conference held in Kismayo, they noted that the minister’s words were ill-intended politics. They found it most challenging to understand one thing. They could not comprehend why a Federal minister believed it necessary to defile the Jubbaland Constitution, intentionally misinterpret its laws, and show disrespect to the Legislative Assembly. As member Mohamed Abdinasir said of the incident: “Of all the challenges we are facing across Somalia …”

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