History repeats itself. On July 1, 1960, Somalia became sovereign state described as unitary, democratic republic based on people’s representation, led by an exceptionally law-abiding democrat until corrupt politicians seized power and paved the way for military coup and dictatorship ousted with armed rebellion that degenerated into civil war and state collapse. After ten years of statelessness, Somalia resurfaced to retrace back its democratic path that culminated in the adoption of new provisional constitution on August 1, 2012.
Late Adan Abdulle Osman best known “Adan Adde” was the first president elected on July 1, 1960 for one year and then reelected on July 6, 1961 for six-year term on the basis of new constitution adopted in 1961. He was crusader for the adherence to the constitution and political integrity by the ruling class. To the best of his ability, he dedicated his political life and fortune to make Somalia worthy of its constitutional aspirations as a democratic state under the rule of law. He fought against political manipulations, election fraud, corruption, vote buying, and suppression of individual freedom, liberty, and antagonism against opponents. His political impartiality angered his supporters and leaders of his party, accusing him of being an ally of the opposition. He strongly resented such insinuations.
In 1967, The Parliament and the Prime Minister suggested the delay of the presidential election for 15 days to monitor the six-day war between Arabs and Israel, but President Adan Abdulle disagreed and insisted on holding the election as scheduled. He lost his 1967 reelection bid and then asked the parliament to approve his early peaceful transfer of power to give his successor late Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke the opportunity of celebrating with the nation on Independence Day on July 1, 1967.
It’s moving to read his daily dairies about his struggle with his PM Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, Ministers, Governors, police and military, and the leaders of his political party on the issue of free and fair elections. Some of the diaries are quoted in the pages 462-473 and 500-505 of Mohamed Trunji’s book, “Somalia -The Untold History – 1941 -1969.” The positive assessment of 1964 political elections were credited to the noble efforts of President Adan and the Minister of Interior Mohamud Abdinur “Juje.”
The affair of the Somali state changed dramatically for worse when the government of late president Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke and late Prime Minister Mohamed Haji Egal decided to steal the 1969 election by changing the electoral law and appointing loyalist district commissioners, governors, police commanders, and handpicked, inexperienced judges for the Supreme Court. When the Commander of the Police Force late Mohamed Abshir Muse refused to comply with the unconstitutional electoral law and the request for the transportation of the supporters of the ruling party to the polling stations, he was fired by late Minister of Interior Yassin Nur Hassan. The unprecedented level of election fraud, corruption, and abuse of power are cited as the causes for the killing of late President Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke and the bloodless Military coup.
Somalia suffered destructions and moral corruption of 21 years under dictatorship rule, which brutally ended on January 26, 1991. After 10 years of civil war and power struggle that destroyed all symbols of the Somali state and 12 years of transitional governments started with the brethren help of Ismail Omar Ghelle, president of Djibouti, the Somali people with the support of the international community agreed to establish a Federal Republic of Somalia (FRS) described in the Provisional Federal Constitution adopted on August 1, 2012.
Professor Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was the first president elected on the basis of the new constitution on 16 September 2012. His term was supposed to end on 15 September 2016 but stayed in office until February 8, 2017 (extra 4 months) during which period, the elections of the members of the two houses of the federal parliament, the installation of elected parliament, and the presidential elections were successfully completed. It’s also worth noting that in 2016, for the first time, the election of the members of the Upper House of the federal parliament representing the newly formed federal member states (FMS) was implemented. The opposition, the civil society, and the international partners played active role in the election process.
Presidential Candidate Farmajo and other candidates were vocal in asking repeatedly President Hassan to leave Villa Somalia for the end of his term on September 15, 2016, which was considered legitimate demand. Indeed, President Hassan issued decree complying with article 103 on Caretaker Government. One complicating factor was that PM Omar Abdirashid was presidential candidate, which undermined the Caretaker Government’s legitimacy, neutrality, and independence.
Ironically, the 2016 federal parliament elected president Farmajo to succeed President Hassan and in accordance with Article 91 of the constitution, issued Resolution GSH/B-10/003/17 dated 8 February 2017 (Qaraar-Doorashada-MJFS.pdf) specifically stating that Farmajo’s term of office starts on 8 February 2017 and ends on 7 February 2021. Surely, Farmajo was aware of the significance of the parliament resolution.
In less than a year in power, the mobster character of Farmajo shocked public conscience. Again, Somalia veered off from the democratic path and the foundation of the democratic system of governance – the rule of law, checks ana balance, and accountability, was quickly demolished and disappeared.
With shameless and ruthless, Farmajo refuses to leave Villa Somalia for one year, which is a violation of the constitution and parliament resolution. Worse, he attempted to unlawfully extend his term for two more years, an attempt swiftly rejected with threat.
The undisputed failed coup attempt of mobster Farmajo against the Caretaker Government of Prime Minister Roble on December 27, 2021 shocked everyone and compels the end of his unlawful stay in Villa Somalia. The PM and the Caretaker government are responsible not only on elections but on the executive functions of the federal government including the armed and security forces. See articles 97, 99, and 100, and 104 of the Constitution on the Executive Branch.
The 2012 constitution is clear on legitimacy and there are set of articles included in the constitution that prevent the stay in office or term extension beyond mandate. Articles 60 and 91 fix the 4-year term of office of the federal parliament and president respectively and determine the legitimacy and the illegitimacy of the decisions and actions of the elected public officials. According to the judicial system, any action taken after the end of the terms of office are null and void. Those provisions are definitive, unambiguous, and can’t be changed by a parliamentary act. No elected person has the right to remain in office by default after his or her mandate ends. Article 72 of 1960 constitution stipulates that any amendment to the term of office will not apply to the incumbent president or parliament. This is the tradition for democratic government.
According to articles 90 (O) of 2012 constitution, Article 52 (2) of 1960 constitution, and the electoral agreement of September 17, 2020, Farmajo had the responsibility to dissolve the federal parliament for the start of the election period and the proximity of the end of the parliamentary term on 27 December 2020 and as well as to comply with article 103 on Caretaker government. Farmajo failed to fulfill his constitutional obligations and deserves persecution for dereliction of duty.
Article 103 dispels the false claim of power vacuum or other excuses and establishes the Caretaker Government for the exclusive purpose of being responsible to run the country when parliament and president lose legitimacy. The inclusion of this article is to prevent unlawful stay in power or term extension for any excuse by elected bodies.
The article constrains the authority of the whole federal government for the lack of popular legitimacy provided through free and fair elections. Indeed, the Caretaker government enjoys limited authorities. It’s prohibited to enter into new contract, start new initiatives that involve financial obligations or create commitments for the incoming government. In addition, the incoming parliament and government have the power to examine the actions taken by the caretaker government for extreme necessity and amend those actions that fall outside its jurisdiction. Farmajo’s transgressions challenge the constitutional responsibility of the caretaker government and force political wrestling.
Villa Somalia and Villa Hargeisa, the offices of the president and parliament, must remain vacant to prevent the exercise of any power invested in those offices by the constitution for lack of legitimacy. The vacancies can’t be filled by an interim president or parliamentarians. If someone can’t appreciate the difference between legitimate or illegitimate actions of public officials or institutions, then that person doesn’t agree with the centrality of the constitution in the public life of all citizens.
Studies on the subject of removing illegitimate presidents from office like Farmajo found that it can happen through the joint pressure of the opposition forces and the international partners before public rebellion or armed forces intervene and democracy is tarnished. It is in the best interest of Somalia that Farmajo and former MPs leave office in compliance with the constitution for future lesson. Since Farmajo hanged the portrait of the founding father president Adan Adde at his office as his hero, it is time that Farmajo honors the devotion of his hero to the rule of law and vacates Villa Somalia tomorrow.
Dr. Mohamud M. Uluso