Federalism Dialogue in Mogadishu

We concluded our ‘National Dialogue on Federalism’ with a final consultation in Mogadishu on 22nd December. You can watch a short video here and see images here.

It was a full circle back to where it all started at the beginning of 2014. This project has taken us to Baidoa, Garowe, Galkayo and Kismaayo. Our primary objective of this research was to support state-building by harnessing and amplifying local voices on decentralization options and to enhance public understanding of federalism.

Compared to the dialogues held in other cities, the Mogadishu forum was different in many aspects. For one, most of the participants were not elites. Most were ordinary citizens: men, women and youth with a fair degree of political and social awareness. Secondly and relatedly, the discussion was considerably more nuanced than most other locations.

Women participants contributed substantially. Many had clear ideas about issues surrounding federalism. Their views were unfailingly based on the need for peaceful coexistence among the Somali people.

After a short presentation on the “Decentralization Options for Somalia”, based on our first paper, supporters and opponents of federalism exchanged their views on the various options. Proponents held that federalism is the only way to reunite a divided nation like Somalia. Opponents, on the other hand, characterized federalism as a foreign plot to divide Somalia into mini-states without a unified vision.

Given the perception that Mogadishu residents are generally anti-federalism, we were pleasantly surprised about the diversity of opinions in the crowd. It was a strong indication that, despite the demagoguery, most Somalis have a nuanced view on such complex issues as federalism.

Some participants criticized the process of federating the country. It was noted that the process lacked clear framework and coherent implementation strategy. Many thought it was haphazard and might lead to renewed conflict if it was not properly addressed. Of particular concern to many was the demarcation of interstate boundaries. Some viewed it as deepening clan identity at the expense of citizenship.

Two issues emerged as common themes throughout this research: the need for genuine social reconciliation and civic education. Like their countrymen in other locations, Mogadishu residents emphasized social reconciliation as a perquisite to a successful implementation of federalism in Somalia. Many pointed out that civil war wounds remain unhealed. Similarly, robust civic education was seen as a vital element of the jigsaw. Most people admitted they understood very little about the complexity of federalism.

Toward the end of the discussion, participants were identifying common ground. Instead of dwelling on the negative and positive aspects of federalism, the dialogue shifted to ways of improving the current process of federalism in Somalia.

Now that we have successfully concluded our national dialogue on federalism, we entered the most crucial aspect of the research phase — crunching the numbers and analyzing the data from the surveys we collected. This will be our priority over the next couple of weeks, after which we will release a comprehensive report on federalism in Somalia. Our hope is to make a meaningful, evidence-based contribution to the national discourse on this crucial issue.

Also, we will produce a short documentary capturing the key moments of this project. Our efforts won’t end here. We hope to continue investigating this issue. Stay tuned.

*Daud Ed Osman is a Senior Researcher with the Heritage Institute for Policy Studies.

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10 Comments

  1. Ali MAK
    Posted December 2014 at 10:39 pm | Permalink

    I really do admire HIPs work and the platform that it gives the local people to cast their views. Coming back to the point of Federalism in Somalia, I believe it is a complex topic and doesn’t fit the current forms of Somali politics. Technically; it will be very hard to materialize the federalism process in Somalia due to the missing aspects of (a) unbalanced regional economical/resources, (b) Lack of free and fair election in the initial formation of the so called regional states, (c) Lack of the expertise / capacity at regional level in terms of running regional states governments with out corruption and nepotism in particular and (d) Lacking of stability and concrete security in the regions; all these and other underlying factors doesn’t effectively allow to establish “Proper Federalism”in Somalia.

    • Gedef
      Posted January 2015 at 10:24 pm | Permalink

      I read through the summary of the coming up research obstruct, and I do believe this type of research will be meaningful in many aspects for the perception of our society in terms of understanding the concept of Federalism system in Somalia, the aim behind the seen of imposing Federalism, the process of the decentralization and its ultimate impact for our generation. In my view, Federalization is one form of political system practicing in many countries in the wold including the OIC members as the situation of Malaysia. Federalism its self is not a point, what is actually making a sense is the ways and forms of federal system to be chosen for implementation. What is also primarily required by the society is to be formed and set up based on their believes, cultures and socioeconomic status.
      Generally, we call for HIPS to increase the involvement of the research activists and act in the position of missing Somali bodies for research tasks and projects. Lastly, I,m so expecting form HIPS to ensure the reliability of its research findings by following the sequence of the research universal standards to produce outcomes based on evidences.

      Senior Somali Researcher in Mogadishu

  2. ABDISHAKUR
    Posted January 2015 at 10:38 am | Permalink

    I PERSONALLY BLIEVE THAT FEDARALIZM IS NOT FINAL SOLUTION OF OUR COUNTRY

  3. Hailu Kebede
    Posted January 2015 at 5:58 pm | Permalink

    In the first place I’m happy to hear such news that is different from the past. The world’s ears were tuned hear about war, deaths, and civil war in Somalia. Now as the time changes, wit is not an easy shift for Somalia. The people started peaceful discussions not about war and displacement but about the system of government for their country. This popular participation being exercised by the government should continue with a better study, capacity, and options. The government and other concerned institutions in Somalia including the heritage institute for policy studies must work hard in order to avoid the mis-perceptions on federalism. Researches should first focus focus to have sufficient and concrete study and information on the system of federalism in order to discuss it with the ordinary people. It needs further knowledge and expertise. Experiences all over the world could help if properly and widely studied together with the Somali objective realities.

    Somalia has been with other system of governments. It has tasted all but was unfortunate to bring peace and development for Somalia. New systems are always opaque at the start until the fruits began to be seen. People usually believe by seeing rather than in theory. This also needs sacrifices of the Somali elites, and other peace and security activists. By sacrifice, I do mean not the bloody but the other side, the peaceful, but the tiresome one.

    I wish lasting peace for Somalia!

    Thank you!

  4. Hassan Warsame
    Posted January 2015 at 7:05 pm | Permalink

    HIPS, thank you for doing such an admirable work!

    Ali MAK,

    I agree with the issues you highlighted, but don’t you think this is also the case for a centralized Somalia? Arguably, the corruption and nepotism you’re concerned with will be highly concentrated in the hands of a few. The reality is that all countries emerging from civil war have the same traits you mentioned, however, there’s no literature to suggest federalism is not feasible. Personally, I’m opposed to the idea of central planning. This is not to say I’m oblivious to the economic and budgetary issues that may hinder federalism.

    H. Warsame
    Johns Hopkins University,

  5. Ismail Ahmed Gutale
    Posted May 2015 at 12:58 am | Permalink

    Federalism is the better option for Somalia, because this type of system was not meant for Somalia and its people. Where u’ve one same people, who lack any variation in their way of life, how could one whish them to use federal system? U the (heritage) plz don’t overstate this wrong system and do all u can to shed more to so-called federalism to public. The driving forces of all the so-called “federalism dialogues” , are foreign powers, who tend to bring in the noble land of Somalia, an outcasted people like homos, christians so on and so forth, and the aim of imposing system is to pave the way the untimely arrival of those above mentioned insects into our land. Somalia is not for sale, and sooner than latter, so Somalia shall get back to original form of governance and that title is “The Republic Of Somalia”, insha’Allah. Let’s all join our hands in the formation of well-trained and best deciplined army and police force for the Republic Of Somalia, in order to put and end the horible ordeals subjected to our young women, by so-called AU peace keeping force in the country. Let’s repent for our crimes committed each other and buil a better Somalia for next and current generation of our up-coming talented men and women and pay tribute to our fallen comrades in the course of nationhood like Hallane, Ahmed Gurrey, Dhagahtour, Sayim Mohamed, Hawo Tako, Aided, Jalle Siyad, gen.Da’ud, Abdullahi Isse and so many others who proved to us that imperialism can not in our land unlike Abdillahi Yusuf, Sharif Sakin Ahmed madobe, Abdiwali Gas, Omar Sharmake and Hassan sheikh, who made a norm of the day to dump Ethiopians into the country!

  6. Ismail Ahmed Gutale
    Posted May 2015 at 1:04 am | Permalink

    Sorry federalistm is not the better option for Somalia. “Not” was missing the first paragraph of my comment so plz don’t get confused.

  7. Ismail Ahmed Gutale
    Posted May 2015 at 1:06 am | Permalink

    Federalism is not the better option for Somalia, because this type of system was not meant for Somalia and its people. Where u’ve one same people, who lack any variation in their way of life, how could one whish them to use federal system? U the (heritage) plz don’t overstate this wrong system and do all u can to shed more to so-called federalism to public. The driving forces of all the so-called “federalism dialogues” , are foreign powers, who tend to bring in the noble land of Somalia, an outcasted people like homos, christians so on and so forth, and the aim of imposing system is to pave the way the untimely arrival of those above mentioned insects into our land. Somalia is not for sale, and sooner than latter, so Somalia shall get back to original form of governance and that title is “The Republic Of Somalia”, insha’Allah. Let’s all join our hands in the formation of well-trained and best deciplined army and police force for the Republic Of Somalia, in order to put and end the horible ordeals subjected to our young women, by so-called AU peace keeping force in the country. Let’s repent for our crimes committed each other and buil a better Somalia for next and current generation of our up-coming talented men and women and pay tribute to our fallen comrades in the course of nationhood like Hallane, Ahmed Gurrey, Dhagahtour, Sayim Mohamed, Hawo Tako, Aided, Jalle Siyad, gen.Da’ud, Abdullahi Isse and so many others who proved to us that imperialism can not in our land unlike Abdillahi Yusuf, Sharif Sakin Ahmed madobe, Abdiwali Gas, Omar Sharmake and Hassan sheikh, who made a norm of the day to dump Ethiopians into the country!

  8. Ismail Ahmed Gutale
    Posted May 2015 at 1:20 am | Permalink

    Federalism is not the better option for Somalia, because this type of system was not meant for Somalia and its people. Where u’ve one same people, who lack any variation in their way of life, how could one wish them to use federal system? U the (heritage) plz don’t overstate this wrong system and do all u can to shed more light to the so-called federalism to the public. The driving forces of all the so-called “federalism dialogues” , are foreign powers, who tend to bring in the noble land of Somalia, an outcasted people like homos, christians so on and so forth, and the aim of imposing that system is to pave the way the untimely arrival of those above mentioned insects into our land. Somalia is not for sale, and sooner than latter, Somalia shall get back to original form of governance and that title of being “The Republic Of Somalia”, insha’Allah. Let’s all join our hands in the formation of well-trained and best deciplined army and police force for the Republic Of Somalia, in order to put and end the horible ordeals subjected to our young women, by so-called AU peace keeping force in the country. Let’s repent for our crimes committed each other and build a better Somalia for next and current generation of our up-coming talented men and women and pay tribute to our fallen comrades in the course of nationhood like Hallane, Ahmed Gurrey, Dhagahtour, Sayim Mohamed, Hawo Tako, Aided, Jalle Siyad, gen.Da’ud, Abdullahi Isse and so many others who proved to us that imperialism can not in our land unlike Abdillahi Yusuf, Sharif Sakin Ahmed madobe, Abdiwali Gas, Omar Sharmake and Hassan sheikh, who made a norm of the day to dump Ethiopians into the country!

  9. Mogadishu Man
    Posted January 2016 at 12:01 pm | Permalink

    Am impressed and surprised at the same time…. if social reconciliation theme has consumed the part of the consultative discussion then why not pursue rather than flogging a dead horse of federal maddness…. this is top down and bound to fail I bet.

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