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Somalia’s regions slowly evolve into federal states

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Somali Minister of Foreign Affairs Abdusalam Omer (left) with his Kenyan counterpart Cabinet Secretary Amina Mohammed (centre) and United Nations High Commissioner for Refugees representative Raouf Mazou (right), address the media in Nairobi on April 21, 2015. As more parts of Somalia become peaceful, more Somali refugees in Kenya are expected to return home. FILE PHOTO | JEFF ANGOTE |   NATION MEDIA GROUP

By ABDULKADIR KHALIF, TEA Special Correspondent

Posted  Saturday, August 15   2015 at  13:37

In Summary

  • Exactly 11 years after the Nairobi accord, Somalis are still trying to make the federal system work. Progress is slow but tangible.
  • Since Somalia officially has 18 regions including Banadir region (Mogadishu and surrounding areas), there are quite a number of states that can be formed. Puntland state in the northeastern region declared itself autonomous in August 1998.
  • Unlike Somaliland, Puntland labelled itself “semi-autonomous,” a crucial distinction that signifies its leaders are waiting until a federal republic is formed for Somalia so that they can join it.
  • Apart from Somaliland and Puntland, which that had existed prior to the formation of the federal government in 2012, the task of organising the remaining regions into states has proven to be arduous and painfully slow.
  • By the end of 2014, Somalia had four zones with autonomous administrations: Somaliland, Puntland, Jubaland and South Western.
  • By the beginning of 2015, the task of forming an administration for two regions in central Somalia, explicitly for Galgadud and Mudug, started.

When Somalia gained Independence in 1960, the country embarked on a democratic path, with eight administrative regions governed by civilian authorities representing the central government based in Mogadishu.

But under the regime of the late General Mohamed Siad Barre over 21 years (1969-1991), the Horn of Africa country was further split into 18 regions.

The collapse thereafter of the Barre dictatorship in 1991 set off years of civil strife.

Horrified by years of lawlessness, Somali leaders gathered in Nairobi, Kenya, for a major reconciliation conference in August 2004 and adopted a charter paving the way for the formation of the Federal Republic of Somalia.

Exactly 11 years after the Nairobi accord, Somalis are still trying to make the federal system work. Progress is slow but tangible.

On August 8, Abdulfatah Hassan Afrah, the governor of Hiran region and Ali Abdullahi Hussein Guudlaawe, the governor of Middle Shabelle region, signed an agreement to unite the two regions in central Somalia to form a state.

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who oversaw the signing of the agreement between the two regions at an event in Villa Somalia, the state house in Mogadishu, said, “What we are witnessing today is another occasion that shows how power is being devolved and shared.

“This signing ceremony is a demonstration that organised authorities will be responsible for the states and accountable to the federal government,” he added.

Somalia’s Minister for Interior Affairs and Federalisation Abdurahman Mohamed Hussein Odowaa congratulated the two governors and the peoples of Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions for seeking a way forward but had a word of caution.

“The federal government welcomes the merger of the two regions to form a state to be part of the Federal Republic of Somalia, but you have to remember that the way ahead is not a bed of roses,” indicating the need to employ the experience gained over the past years in state-building.

The provisional Constitution that was endorsed by a Constituent Assembly in August 2012 stipulates that two or more regions can unite and form a state.

Since Somalia officially has 18 regions including Banadir region (Mogadishu and surrounding areas), there are quite a number of states that can be formed.

Puntland state in the northeastern region declared itself autonomous in August 1998.

Unlike Somaliland, Puntland labelled itself “semi-autonomous,” a crucial distinction that signifies its leaders are waiting until a federal republic is formed for Somalia so that they can join it.

Since September 2012, Somalia was guided by Vision 2016, an internationally supported scheme that, among other goals, aims at federalising the country by the end of the term of the current government led by President Mohamud in September 2016.

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