The Future Constitutional Structure of the Somali Republic: Federal or Decentralized Unitary State?

By Abdirazak Haji Hussein (Prime Minister of the Somali Republic,1964-1967) 

1. Introduction

I begin with a compressed background to the   current plight of Somalia. Second, I will offer brief comments on the frequently raised option of a “federal state.” Third, I will advance the value of   a “decentralized unitary” version that I advocate. I will conclude with brief reflections on the necessity for a combination of a particular type of administrative cadre and a cohort of extraordinary political leadership.

11. Background

By all accounts, Somalia is now regarded as a supreme example of a failed state. This is due to a bloody and devastating clanistic civil strife that broke out soon after the two-decade dictatorial regime of Siyaad Barre crumbled in the teeth of resistance and wide popular alienation.

During this prolonged communal war, more than 15 peace and reconciliation conferences have been mounted and paid for by the “international community.”  Alas, All of them had ended up in total failure. The tremendous efforts, resources and time invested in these efforts, particularly, those held in Arta, from April To August 2000 and at Eldoret/Embagathi from October 2002 to November 2004, have taught us numerous lessons. For one thing, those who had been invited to participate as “Somali leaders’” were, except at Arta, primarily, warlords and their cronies. This new visibility bestowed on them legitimated ill-earned name recognition as the sole Somali leaders to be reckoned with. The warlords knew all along that restoring peace, as we know it, would be tantamount to a loss of the limelight and fortunes they had ill gotten, as well as expose them to personal vulnerability.  Thus, it became clear that the warlords’ real interest had always been to fuel the on-going civil war.


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