Somalia's Inter-Governmental Relations Between The Constitutional Theory And Political Practice

Thursday January 05, 2023 - 12:04:25 in Articles by Xaaji Faysal
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    Somalia's Inter-Governmental Relations Between The Constitutional Theory And Political Practice

    Somalia Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) provides

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Somalia Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) provides

New Policy Analysis

The concept of Somali federalism has been gradually gaining some traction in the last few years. The idea of "two levels of government” or "Federal and State governments” was not initially popular with many people in Somalia who were used to unitary system of government, political and governance hierarchy and unilateral top-down decision making since independence in 1960. Therefore, it was no surprise that the new political federal architecture presented many challenges to governing, coordination, decision-making and delivery of services.


Somalia Provisional Federal Constitution (PFC) provides that exercise of federalism should be guided by principles of confidence and support of people, spirit of national unity, dialogue and reconciliation and subsidiarity (Article 50). 

The founding principles of federalism in the light of the PFC informs that the federal model of Somalia should be based on vertical cooperation between the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) and Federal Member States (FMS), rooted in broad-based collaboration, negotiation, and joint decision-making through formalized institutions and forums in the form of Intergovernmental Relations (IGR).


IGR is enshrined in the PFC (Chapter 5, Articles 50 to 54). The formalization of IGR in the PFC is unsurprisingly expected given the country’s jurisprudence which is largely based on civil law tradition but also underscores the importance of IGR in the adoption of Federalism and post conflict Somalia context in which the PFC was drafted. However, the formalization of IGR in the PFC did not translate into the formation of effective IGR institutions, legal frameworks and accountability and transparency strategies.


In the last seven years, nascent IGR platforms without effective legal, institutional and administrative mechanisms mostly derived from political opportunism and donor demands for cooperation and resource sharing (aid money) have emerged, leading to numerous ad-hoc conferences and agreements between FGS and FMS. 

The most prominent forum is the National Consultative Council (NCC) which has been acting as the highest executive IGR platform in Somalia and succeeded to convene and reach agreements on a number of exigent and contentious issues. But the forum has never been formalized in a primary legislation as instructed in the PFC (Article 51(5) nor was it institutionalized to effectuate its work. Not only has it been deficient of legal standing but most of the agreements hammered at the NCC have been treated as legally non-binding "political deals” and were never submitted to legislative scrutiny and approval at the Federal parliament.


This policy review and analysis sought to examine Somalia IGR arrangements in the light of the provisions of the PFC, relevant legislations and inter-governmental agreements reached between FGS and FMS with comparative considerations. The challenges to IGR in Somalia could have been borne as the result of post conflict state building conundrums, and the limited resources and capacities of Somalia institutions but the following barriers have been highlighted as the main causes of the lack of effective institutionalized IGR in Somalia.


Click the below URL to read the full Policy Analysis:




The Somali Institute for Development Research and Analysis (SIDRA)


Behind the Immigration Building, Garowe, Puntland, Somalia


Tell: +252-5-846044




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