The Provisional Federal Constitution of Somalia adopted a democratic system of government with checks and balance of power between three branches of government. Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) has three levels of governance: 1. Shared level (dawladda dhexe) 2. A Federal Member State (Dawladd-Gobolleed) or FMS. 3. Local District Council (Gole deegaan). Like any other similar federal system, the first two levels have their own separate constitutions and three branches of government. Sovereignity remains with the Central Government of the Somali Republic. The system is still evolving and needs further work in harmonizing the constitutions. Formation of FMS must satisfy the requirement of unification of two regions or more to be constitutionally legitimate. A FMS has powers expanding into regions and districts within the state.

Contrary to the behavior of the Somalia’s current President, the Executive Powers of the Government rest on the Cabinet and powers of the President and Prime Minister are clearly spelled out in the Federal Constitution. The President appoints the Prime Minister, but he cannot fire him. Only the Parliament has power to fire both the President and Prime Minister.

In summary, Somali Federal Constitution is similar to that of USA. The President of a FMS is the same as the Governor of a US state, who is elected to a fixed term in Office. Similarly, in Somalia the Federal Authorities cannot fire or appoint a FMS President, in the same way US President cannot do. Political agreements between FGS and FMS are by consensus similar to the case of Canadian Federalism. In many ways, Federal Constitution has similarities with that of UK and Northern Ireland system of government with strong devolution of power to Wales, Scotland and Northern Ireland. Economic resources and fiscal responsibilities are shared by special arrangements, agreements between Central Government and Federal Member States by consensus. Unlike ethnic federalism of Ethiopia, the central authorities in Somalia have no much sway in internal affairs of FMS.

Finally, Somali Federal Constitution came about as a de facto (not de jure), following the civil war and the re-instatement of Central Somali Government accepted that reality on the ground into the Federal Constitution. It was the only way to try to restore lost trust between warring clans.

Still, some portions of Somali people believe that a form of federalism called “Confederalism” is the best option. They say Somali clans by nature are confederal entities like Darood, Hawiye, Dir etc. What suits them most is the confederalism of Swiss type, where Cantons has most powers and an elected Prime Minister (Cabinet) has the Executive Powers of the Government, while the Presidency is a rotating ceremonial role between Cantons.

Ongoing controversy on the Somali Constitution, if not resolved soon, may lead to the breakup of Somalia. It is a dangerous crossroad for Somalia’s survival as a state. Warning. Let us act now.

[This article has been updated since posting].


Terms or names like Hawiye, Digil, Mirifle, Raxanweyn, Isaak, JareerWeyn, Dir, and even the country’s name Somalia, have no common ancestral relations as individual groups. Each of these names are political and social constructs for reasons beyond the scope of this short article. Paradoxically, these confederal tribes are now resisting to apply the term to the collective name of “Somalia”. Whom are they kidding?

Now, two junior researchers from ill-gotten and privately misappropriated SIMAD College in Mogadishu, illegally acquired, owned and operated by former Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, AbdiNor Dahir and Ali Yassin Sheikh Ali, have just used their first professional work to denounce federalism as inapplicable to Somali governance, fraudulently disregarding the fact that Somalia is a confederation of tribes, and thus ignoring this fundamental truth in Somali governance that lie in the state failure and entire predicament of Somalia as a country and nation-state.
These junior researchers from SIMAD even dared to call Puntland and Somaliland as children born out-of-wedlock in the federation in the sense that they were established before Galmudugh and Hirshabelle Federal Member States. AbdiNoor Dahir and Ali Yasin Sheikh Ali, in a pseudo-research paper called Federalism in Post-Conflict Somalia, have come up with half-truths:

Nowadays, since most Hawiye scholars try not to come out openly against federalism due to the fact that it was enshrined in the Provisional Federal Constitution, and that their Hawiye constituencies are now parts of the federation, they find the term “Decentralisation” fashionable as way of resisting federalism, confederalism or anything outside “city-state”.

Federalism, a Guarantor of Peace among Somali Clans

By Ismail Warsame

February 6, 2013

Nowadays and for while during the past two decades, Somali thinkers, writers and politicians were keenly debating on best way forward for Somalia’sgovernance and political arrangements Post-Civil War. This debate is extremelycrucial for the survival of Somalia as a country as well as a strong cohesive nation-state.

While many among debaters were and are still sincerelyl ooking for best possible governance system (s) and pros and cons of each ofthe “Menu of options”, a few of them continue to ignore the status quo (current Somalia’s political situation) dismissing it as sidetrack and unimportant clannish nuisance or refuse to acknowledge the extent ofpublic mistrust following the vicious civil war involving heinous crimes of ethnic cleansing, mass murder, forceful and illegal landing-grabbing, plunder of both public and private wealth and barbaric destruction of national heritageand state archives in Mogadishu and elsewhere.

In my humble opinion, any politician of conscience at any level of government (President, Cabinet and parliament members) whose political power base had committed such grave and gross human rights abuses, national robbery, national betrayal and treason should apologize to the nation and resign immediately. If that is not forthcoming, it would be mean that the civilwar is still technically on, and there is no guarantee that history would not repeat itself. Such politicians have no moral legitimacy to govern until they come clear and publicly accept their personal and power-base responsibilities for what happened in Somalia during the Barre regime and following the final collapse of Somalia’s central state in 1991. Somalis, please be warned. One should never entertainwith the idea to translate the recent US recognition of the current Somali Government as a victory of one faction over others in theCivil War, and again attempt to misuse state resources to try to subjugate others. That would be a futile exercise and would unfortunately hasten the disintegration of Somalia as we know it. It is the expectation of all Somalis from the world community to watch out any signs for the repetition of that sad saga.

During the past ten years we witness multiple self-proclamations of regional federal mini-states such as Makhir State,Khatumo State,Awdal State,Galgamud State, Hibin and Heeb State, Asania State,Ras Asayr Stateamong many others. With keen observation, one would realize that those self-proclamations were characteristically peaceful and surprisingly did not spark off any clan fighting with the unique exception of Khatumo, rightly resisting aggressive occupation of its territory by “Somaliland”militia. Why? This could be a case-study; of all clan wars in the country, the self-proclaimed federal mini-states brought relative peace to their respective constituencies.  In my opinion, one ofthe main reasons for such peaceful environment within for all sub-clan systemsis the fact that their constituencies see themselves as equal stake-holders inthat mini-entity (state), which acts as the accepted and shared mechanism for conflicts resolution and constitutes common interest for all. Logically and practically, one would therefore take note of this new development to expand the concept to a national level in Somalia’s long journey to restore lost trust among its people and regions.

For historical prerspective, a few months after we had established the Puntland State of Somalia in August 1998, a sub-sub-subclan among the inhabitants of coastal Indian Ocean Mudugh town of Gara’ad andsurrounding areas including the District City of Jeriiban unilaterally announced the creation of Coastal State, declaring its independence fromPuntland State, following sub-clan grievances regarding their expected share inthe newly constituted Puntland Parliament. That grievance was actually proved to be the mistake or intentional concession of their allocated Parliament seatto another sub-clan in Mudugh Region by their local traditional elder. The subclan members opposed the move by the elder. To address the issue and resolveit, a delegation led by the Late State President, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and meincluded, went to the District and met with all stake-holders. One of the first questions we asked our interlocutors was: “How many sub-subclans belong to orcreated the Coastal State, and how many regions are there in the proclaimed entity?” The audience looked at each other,and surprisingly, the answer was obvious. The District belonged to the larger Mudugh Region and even most of the inhabitants of the Jeriiban District alone via their representatives did not belong to and were not party to the “Coastal State”. That was the end of the story. I believe, Coastal State was the first unviable mini-state created in Somalia.

The lesson we learned from that experience was that a statewhether it is a national or regional must enjoy the trust of all its constituencies to survive, safeguard its unity, develop and prosper in peace and harmony. Anyone aspiring to see the Somalia he or she wants or imagines must take this lesson seriously into account.

Those Somali writers debating on federalism lately almostall of them ignore the fundamental reason for the debate itself on the issueand failed to find the answers to two critical questions:

What is the main reason that has brought us here to debate on Somalia’s governance options?

How would you restore trust of the people nation-wide in a central authority when people of Somalia have not yet officially and technically ended the Civil War in the absence of comprehensive national reconciliation given what happened?

President Hassan, in athoughtful, prepared and defiant speech to the Somali Diaspora in his recentvisits to US and Belgium says openly, “ if you look back on what happenedyesterday, you lose the opportunities of today”, thus dismissing outright any possibility for accountability for crimes of mass murder, crude human rights abuses, robbery and plunder of personal and public properties. With such a vision for Somalia,forget about reconciliation and peaceful conflict resolutions!

Finally, I am aware that many Somalis would like to give thecurrent government in Mogadishu the benefit of the doubt and wish her to succeed in the best interest of the entire nation. To those I say the taste of pudding is in the eating. Anyone who helps Somaliare cover from its present predicament will be highly appreciated and undoubtedly recognized.


By Ismail Warsame
Opinion Columnist

At last, Somalis got it right. From time immemorial they existed in communities and clans enjoying autonomous entities and freedoms that even colonial power had no recourse to dominate them. Among them, no one clan had the power to subjugate others in the neighborhood. Unlike other nations, there was no feudalism, slavery or landlordism here. They were equal partners in their respective localities. They were engaged in peaceful negotiations on issues of common interests and deviced laws that govern their behavior and invented code of conduct (Xeer.) They never tolerated tyranny in their midst. They were born free and loved their ways of life. That was natural confederalism in its primitive form.

They lost that freedom briefly under military dictatorship. They rose up against that repressive regime, causing a lot of damage as a result of their uprising against an imposition by foreign influence and ideology. Thus, at great cost, they were able to restore their lost freedoms, returning to their natural system of self-government as free people occupying the most strategic real estate in the Horn of Africa, if not in the world. They have been protecting their ocean and sea for centuries against all powerful nations and historical empires of the world. Think about it.

Federalism, or rather confederalism, has been always their system in maintaining self-reliance and Allah-given liberty and freedom of expression symbolized by unmatched prowess of poetry. Now they have reached a point of no return in their movement towards advanced confederalism, federalism. Don’t try to stand in their way.

On the Fight for Decentrilization in Somalia’s Governance

By Abdisalam Salwe, PhD.

Somalis have always been federal or decentralized as you can imagine. Somali speaking people are scattered all around the Horn of Africa [and beyond], speaking the same language. The question is what let them speak the same language? It is because of Somali midnimo [unity of culture and purpose] based on a culture of a decentralized system.

I discussed the issue of decentralization (or federalism) in a paper I presented at “Il corno d’Africa fra Storia, Diritto e Politica” held [in] Rome, 13-14 December 2002. I was discussing how the Somali midnimo has been affected (and destroyed) by the centralization system Somalia took after the independence. [Take a read it here]:


A government by nature could be a dangerous organization, if it falls into wrong hands. It is benevolent and useful when handled well. There are many types of government, which indicate the imperative need to be careful in choosing one’s government. Some types of government are, among many others:


Democracy or representative government differs from the rest significantly as each of them represents only one or a group of people. But, no matter how messy and chaotic democracy could be, the world community couldn’t find better alternative in self- government.

Then, why do we beat about the bush and couldn’t move forward with the best democratic system in the world, federalism, allowing and empowering regions of a country to attend and manage their own local affairs under a representative federal government? After all, this is a little more than a delegation of power to grown-ups in a family business. The problem, however, is that, like in a democracy, every citizen has an uninformed opinion on federalism here. Moreover, anything unfamiliar or untraditional sounds bad to everyone. Many Somalis, like their counterparts in other nations, mostly don’t know what they are talking about when expressing their layman’s opinions on federalism. Why not leave this issue to neutral and impartial experts and wishes of residents in the regions on the best way forward for Somalia’s governance?

Author of the article

Donor Community Re-ngages Puntland Parties to Commit themselves to Holding Elections

Garowe, Puntland-Following the disagreements between the Puntland Government and the Transitional Electoral Commissions on one side and political associations on the other, on holding planned local elections in Puntland in a fair and transparent manner, or if you would, setting up a consensus platform for the rules of the road, resulting in the announcement of election boycott by UDAD, Midnimo and PDP parties, the Donor Community providing funds and technical expertise on Puntland elections, gets worried and started re-engaging parties to move the democratization process forward, according to reliable local and international sources. This is good news for Puntland and its voters to participate actively in a rare democratic process that will see inhabitants deciding the destiny of their country and an opportunity to install the government of their own making and accountable only to them. It is extremely the most important political development in the short history of Puntland and must be hailed as such.

If elections are held as planned in June of this year, based on the provisions of the Puntland Democratization Roadmap, Puntland State is set to come out of the woods and political stagnation it has been stuck throughout its existence. The Donor Community is doing a remarkable job to prevent political chaos and misuse of Donor funds, state power and resources to influence the elections’ outcome.

It is extremely important for all parties, including Puntland authorities and political associations to work with the Donor Community in this regard, for if this process fails, it will have a dramatic impact on the viability of Puntland as a Federated State in a now Federal Somalia. Fair and transparent elections are critically required to preserve the unity, peace and continuation of Puntland as the first pillar and champion of federalism in Somalia. Failure to set the example right will definitely have crucial negative influence at national level, raising renewed questions on suitability of Somalia for Federal system of governance. All Puntland stakeholders of the planned elections must be warned, advised and be very careful in moving the Democratization fairly and honestly forward.

Is Puntland is on the Brink of an Avoidable Political Conflict?

The current differences on the democratization process between Puntland authorities and opposition parties could escalate into destabilization of Puntland and gave opportunities to militants and extremists including Al-shabab now in hiding. Puntland Traditional Leadership and donor community should immediately intervene before it becomes too late to bridge the gap and mistrust between Puntland leadership and opposition political associations.

Democratization was never meant to jeopardize peace and stability in the State, but enhance people’s confidence in the process and add harmony and understanding among inhabitants. Ignored and unaddressed, this simmering political confrontation now could serve as time bomb that can explode anytime as popular protest against real or perceived Government manipulations of electoral process grow louder in the coming weeks and months. It is now about the time to intervene and mediate sides.

Already, some members of the opposition like UDAD (PPP), Midnimo, PDP and others have declared that they will be boycotting the upcoming local elections. This is a bad omen for Puntland stability and must be avoided at any cost.

These new political parties sent out letters to all local and international bodies, party to the electoral process recently and issued press releases, complaining about Government sponsorship and support for amendments, omissions by local Parliament of critical articles in the multiparty electoral laws .

A compromise arrangement has to be made to bring parties together for an agreement acceptable to all. It is in the best interests of all parties concerned to prevent hostilities and political violence.

Correspondence Corner

Dear Fernandez,

To answer your questions, inquiries on personal background are relevant because in the Somalia of today, and as a result of the most vicious civil war in its history, objectivity in political analysis becomes an issue. Emotions usually play out into Somali authors’ essays and descriptions of events in the country. Although Somalis are patriarchal in their lineages, my mother is Northerner while father is from Central Somalia regions. I was born in Northern Somalia and raised in Mudugh Region ( Galkayo) of Central Somalia and Banadir Region (Mogadishu) of Southern Somalia. I finished formal education (High School) in Mogadishu. I went overseas for higher learning and trained as Mechanical Engineer with Masters Degree in thermal power engineering. Since then, I have been acquiring other skills as well, including public administration and political science.

Since I was raised mostly in Mogadishu, I am deeply connected to Southern Somalia too. My political constituency is PuntlandState of Somalia in the North Eastern Somalia though. I therefore consider myself as someone having broad multi-clan background. I am not sure whether that makes sense to you.

I travel a lot in Europe, North America and East Africa and therefore I cannot say I am stationed in one place. My e-mail address,, however, is permanent if someone wants to reach out to me. Right now, I am in Garowe, Puntland, Somalia.

With regards to your question on whether Somalia can become a Federal state, I attach my relevant views on the subject expressed in these articles found both in; and

The Way Forward for Somalia

Kismayo Solution: The South-West State of Somalia

The Current Status, Goals and Vision of the Transitional Federal Government

Public Trust Deficit in Somalia

Federalism, a Guarantor of Peace among Somali Clans

Self-Governance Options for Somaliland

Hope and Lessons in Somalia

Outside View: Building a Secure Somalia

TFG Top Priorities as Expressed by the President

Somalia, Foreign and International Conspiracy

AYA Response to Riyale’s Provocations

AYA Memo on Escalating Conflict in Somalia’s Northern Regions

Letter to Prime Minister Berlusconi

Other articles of interests are

NATTCO Mandate

EU and Africa Guiding principles for Cooperation

ICG London Meeting

UN 2006 Security and Humanitarian Report on Somalia

Ambassador’s Report Back

UN Arms Embargo Monitoring Group Report


Presidential Briefing at ICG Meeting

Diplomatic Briefing

European Union Policies on Multilateral issues

SACB Secretariat

Somalia Aid Coordinating Body (SACB) Guiding Principles

Basis for European Union-Somalia Relationship

SACB Addis Declaration on Somalia

Declassified briefing to the European Union member states by the Author

Safarkii Dheeraa ee Wiilka Reer Miyiga

The Long Journey of the Nomadic Boy

Don’t get high on Khat (aka Kat, Qat, Chat); It is not worth it

In addition, there is a Provisional Federal Constitution to be adhered to by Somalia’s leadership as well as the basis for governance for new Somalia. Respecting that Constitution by all is the basis for restoring trust among people of Somalia.

I am not so sure if I understood well your question regarding the role of religion in Somalia. However, I must say that there are two permanent factors in the country.

1. Clan

2. Islam (in the form of Somali traditional Sunni sect).

Islamic religion in Somalia is now experiencing deep crisis as the new adherents of Saudi Wahabism make their presence felt and forcefully imposed upon the population, hence extremism and radicalism resulted in the creation of Al-Shabab, Al-Itihad, Al-Takfir, Al-Islah, among others of fundamentalist Islam. Wahabism now is a political and religious force to be reckoned with. You may be aware that Saudi Arabia has been extending religious scholarships to a huge number of Somali youths for decades. When these graduates came back to Somalia, the resulting effect is devastating for the stability of the country and religious harmony. That is the main source of the current religious intolerance never recorded in the history of religion in Somalia.

I hope this will give you a brief introduction to the “state of the union” in Somalia.



Dear Ismail

It is a pleasure to contact you and I appreciate your qick answer.

I found your blog through a Somali news site, named Wardheer News. An article signed by you and look up in the web who you are, and I found your blog. That`s all. It has been my first contact with the blog but it will not be, for sure, the last one.

I guess you are living in America (US or Canada), Aren’t you? Sorry for asking some personal questions. Are you a national Somali?, if so where are you or your family coming from in Somalia?, and, finally, which is your family clan?

My tow first (non personal) questions is basics and difficult. It is about the future of Somalia.

– Will Somalia be a real Federal state?

– Is Islam more than the nationalistic idea what is going to unify Somalia?

I have watched out about this three aspects of (name of the city omitted for privacy reasons). I am leaving the country before Summer what is a wise decission I took…

Thnaks in advance. Best regards.

Fernandez (name of the sender modified for privacy protection)