Somalia is politically in far better shape than when President Hassan Sheikh took office in 2012, but much of that progress threatens to unravel as the country lurches toward an uncertain and ill-prepared political transition in August 2016. The federal government’s transitional framework, known as Vision 2016, has made fitful progress and is now years behind schedule. Political infighting and lack of political will account for much of the delay, but the Provisional Constitution – upon which Vision 2016 is based – is so incomplete and incoherent that it would be virtually impossible to implement under the best of circumstances. Consequently, with less than 18 months remaining in the federal government’s term of office, it has become increasingly clear that plans to hold a credible constitutional referendum and direct elections by August 2016 are no longer realistic.
The greatest challenges posed by the Provisional Constitution relate to sequencing. Most core transitional tasks, such as the constitutional review process and the formation of independent commissions, require the involvement in some form of either the Federal Member States (FMS) or of the Upper House of Parliament, which represents FMS’ interests. At present, only one FMS exists, the Upper House is yet to be constituted, and the modalities of how it should be constituted are not laid out in the Provisional Constitution. This scenario presents a serious dilemma: whether to delay these tasks until after all of the states are formed – and risk running out of time – or to proceed in the absence of the FMS and risk potential political and legal challenges from the member states when they are eventually formed.
Authors: Matt Bryden & Tres Thomas
Editor: Erica Marsh
A paper by the Sahan Statebuilding Team May 2015