The situation of Somalia’s parliament is so pitiful one almost feels
sorry for it. Only, the other day, in Garowe, Somalia’s parliamentarians
were openly humiliated when their speaker, Sheikh Sharif Hassan, was
invited by the UN to represent parliament even though 285?
parliamentarians said they had impeached him. Not only did the
international community tell Somalia’s parliament that it does not think
much of it, but it showed it does not care about it. And who should
blame the international community? After all, the international
community has been paying the bills for Somalia’s parliament from its
day of conception until now, and Somalia’s parliament has all through
that time behaved like delinquent minors rather than responsible adults.
In the scheme of things, what transpired in Garowe may just be a slap in
the face compared to what could follow if Somalia’s parliamentarians
keep up their silly act, for the international community has not even
begun to use the leverage it wields vis-à-vis Somalia’s parliament. One
of these obvious leverages is the fact that the international community
pays the salaries of parliament.
So any time it decides it had enough of parliament’s antique, it could
cut off their salaries and put them out of business. Another important
leverage in the hands of the international community is whatever little
security parliamentarians get, is provided by AMISOM which is in turn
funded by the international community which means parliament’s security
is in the hands of the international. So any attempt to defy the
international community could lead to the international community
ordering its AMISOM surrogates to end their security protection for
parliamentarians which would mean that they are fair game for
al-Shabaab, and that prospect is enough to make parliamentarians accept
whatever project the international community wants to implement.
That is why at all the important junctures, whenever the international
community decided on a course of action that it deems crucial to its
interests, it goes ahead and implements it regardless of what members of
parliament think. The Garowe agreement is only the latest example.
Before that, there was the decision to double Somalia’s parliament,
which the international community shoved down parliament’s throat, in
order to make it possible for the former terrorist turned moderate,
Sheikh Sharif, to have the necessary votes to become president and
thereby split the Islamic Courts.
Despite controlling parliament’s salaries and security, the
international community’s leverage may not have been so weighty if
parliamentary members behaved honorably and won some support or respect
among the people. But they never tried to get that support or respect.
From the very beginning they disgraced themselves by engaging in fist
fights in foreign five star hotels. They continued such behavior
wherever they went, with the latest fist fights in Mogadishu last week.
Consequently Somalis have formed a low opinion of parliament and see
them mostly as a bunch of former warlords, misfits and outright
criminals who represent nobody but themselves. The international
community knows this. It knows that Somalia’s parliament is despised by
Somalis and has no popular support, and so it can treat it anyway it
And here is the lesson for Somaliland’s parliament. parliament is in a
way like individuals, a parliament that does not respect itself, just
like a person who does not respect himself, will not be respected by
others. Why are we saying this? Because there has been instances when
some members of Somaliland’s parliament seemed to have studied very well
the example of Somalia’s parliament, such as engaging in fist-fights and
other types of unruly behavior and applied it in the halls of
Somaliland’s parliament. So it behooves Somaliland’s parliament to learn
the right lesson and not the wrong lesson from Somalia. Only this week,
members of Somalia’s parliament were begging Ugandan troops to let them
meet. The Ugandans refused, and so Somalia’s parliament could not meet.
That is the fate of irresponsible people. Somaliland’s parliamentarians
should keep that in mind every time some of them want to act