In the Somali Region, an endless political crisis amid pandemic is needlessly endangering lives!

By Mohamed Olad

What is going on in Jigjiga, and the endless cycles of manufactured political crisis, one after the other, especially, amid pandemic is truly horrifying!

This latest stand-off is between president Mustafa and regional council speaker, Mr. Abdi Mohamed, who is said to have clashed with him on how to handle a pack of council members who were pressuring the speaker to hold the either the regular season of the council or call for an emergency one, given the fact that it was almost three months since the last time the regional council convened. During their engagement in the last few days, the speaker has accused the president of meddling in internal council affairs and resisted those initial entreaties from the president for him to resign. However, the president has stubbornly continued his pressure on while claiming that he has been instructed from Addis to fire the speaker. And finally, the speaker is said to have succumbed to the president’s pressure and agreed to resign.However, the unfortunate thing that has raised very serious constitutional and procedural questions while throwing everything up in the air is the claim that president is said to have nominated Mr. Abdi Mohamed, the speaker, as the Bureau Head for Mining and Energy as part of the perks to persuade the speaker to go away, silently and without making a noise.

Well, this is the political and governance climate of one of the largest, but also one of the most backwards regions in the federation. Otherwise, where else in the world, does the speaker of a parliament resigns @ noon & nominated as bureau head in the evening? Or may be this is some sort of Prosperity Party modus-operand

But here comes the tricky part; the president doesn’t still want for the regional council to convene and hold a session so that members can accept the resignation of the speaker and elect a new one. His is betting on this to go away slowly without much debate about it’s constitutionality or decorum and for the deputy, a political novice the president discerns to have her unquestioned loyalty to assume the role of council speaker. If the council convenes, the president is concerned that the agendas for the session will grow in to a set of an uncomfortable agenda items including into a line of parliamentary questioning about serious issues such as executive branch performance, allegations of corruption against some in his inner circles as well as some administration-wide allegations.

Nonetheless, this is neither the end of this latest crisis nor the end of this story of struggle between the president and the legislative branch. The. members behind this latest drive are said to have been uneasy about what ‘they termed ‘Mustafa administration efforts to stone-wall and frustrate the regional council’s efforts to fulfil their constitutional duty of properly overseeing the executive branch ‘. They point to a long list of grievances against the president including insults and tantrum episodes hurled against council members.

This news appears shocking for many people, since the speaker was constantly accused by rank and file members as being a puppet to Mustafa’s to the point ‘he was willing to scrap both council procedures to appease him’ in an attempt to endear himself to the president. For example, Mr. Abdi Mohamed, the speaker has successfully fended off many attempts by council members to force the speaker to convene the council, whether that is regular and irregular sessions, so that they can call the president and other executive branch officials for querying.

That being said, the president can scheme or push the council speaker out in an attempt to remove a perceived political drange. But nevertheless, it shouldn’t be in a way that avoids the constitutionally infused check and balance, by say for example, frustrating the legislative branch’s efforts to summon the president and other cabinet officials for questioning as part of their oversight functions.

Surely, it also shouldn’t be in a way that dismantles the bureaucratic structures that have been painfully and slowly tailored together for the last thirty-plus years. The speaker can resign, but it should be in front of the members that elected him through the consent of the people of the Somali Region; not the president or the party-secretariat.

Remarkably, it was just two weeks ago that the president has alleged a planned coup and an attempt on his life, much like the one schemed by Asamenew Tsige in the Amhara Region, and has used it as a pretext to remove Abdiadil, the security chief and PP EC member. The circumstances surrounding his removal and the ensuing stanf-off almost led to a dangerous security incident that God knows where it would have ended. And still, the president has yet to forward any evidence or initiate a formal investigation into such a serious matter that has dire national security implications.

It also comes at a time that the nation and the region are facing a daunting challenge in the fight against the spread of the #Covid-19 in which the region is deemed ‘not only read, by the least prepared among the nine regions at 27% level of preparedness’ by the World Health Oragnization (WHO). These never ending, manufactured political crises takes away the needed focus and attention from the fight to control the spread and ensuing human and economic devastation in the event that this virus breaks out beyond control .

These shady, Trumpian-style, hood politics also jeopardizes the ever-shaky transition in the region to slide-back to the abyss. Addis should take note and tighten the leash on its attendants in JigJiga, unless of course, it is themselves that has unleashed this never ending madness and chaos on the Somali people. Because, the constitution provides us with a regional president, not a king that rules subjects on his bizarre whims.

Editor’s note: Mohamed Olad is formerly the Media and Communications advisor to President Mustafa Omer of Somali Region.

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