Somalia: One-person one vote election and 4.5 clan system are incompatible

Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame is the leader of Wadajir Party and former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation

The bicameral parliament committee tasked with the completion of election regulations has proposed the allocation of seven Upper House seats for Banadir Region, even though it is not a regional state. How can Banadir have seats in the Upper House if it is not a regional state? They also proposed the use of 4.5 system to share the seven seats while those from the other regional states continue to represent their region.

Also, Banadir has no representation in the House of the People (Lower House). The people in the region will instead vote for members representing Somaliland, who their election will take place in Mogadishu.

The elections law approved by parliament and signed by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is against the country’s constitution and violates the inalienable right of citizens as well as the international standards of a one-person one-vote election, because it is based on universal suffrage and 4.5 clan power sharing system at the same time.

This is not the first time in Somalia that the one person one vote system was used. It was used in the country between 1960-1968. However, the one person one vote then was not based on the 4.5 clan power sharing system but MPs were elected from constituencies where every citizen had the right to elect and to be elected.

In one-person one-vote, parliamentary seats are allocated by area of constituencies. The decision on the number of seats of each constituency is based on the population number.

For example, when allocating seats for Bulaburte or Dusamareb, allocation must be based on the number of people living in each. You can’t just say: Bulaburte has three or four seats, and these seats belong to clan A, B, and C. That is not person one-vote, it is legalisation of clanism.

One person one vote is a constitutional right in which citizens can elect and be elected, as opposed to a 4.5 clan system where the citizen can elect but cannot be elected, which is what the electoral law says.

The law states creation of constituencies and allocation of seats can not be based on clan. Otherwise, certain number of clan-designated constituencies will be allocated to each area or district. People from only one clan can compete for the allocated seat, while the rest of the people in that area can only vote.

Another point; throughout the world, candidates in one person one vote election compete to represent the place they live and area of their residence. It is not lawful to say that while you reside and live in one area, you can only be contested where your ancestors came from. For what reason?

For example, I was born and raised in Bulaburte, and I currently live in Benadir. The electoral law tells me that my ancestors came from in Dusamareb, and I can only seek to represent Dusamareb. Same goes for President Farmajo, who was born and lives in Banadir, but his ancestors hails from Abud Waq, therefore his seat will be taken to Abudwaq in Galgudud.

And members of one clan can reside in several areas, how would seats be allocated to them? Does the power of allocation reside with parliament or the clan?

There is nothing wrong with parliament allocating seats, but allocation must be based on population in each constituency. However, if the election is based on clan, then the right to allocate seats should belong to the clan.

The 4.5 system can only serve as a temporary political solution, it cannot take the place of the country’s electoral law because that would be a violation of the constitution.

A one-person one vote election requires us to reach a settlement on unity, the status of Banadir, citizenship law, and the completion of the constitution, and these are important issues subject to future political decisions and agreements.