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A strong democracy depends on independent institutions

This week, I had the honour and privilege of presenting my case to the Somali Senate for the position of First Deputy Speaker of the Upper House. The role of the Senate in our nascent democracy is to ensure the representation of the Federal Member States and ‘be the custodian of Federalism Principles, Initiate and amend laws, scrutinise the bills and carry out oversight functions and holding the government of the day to account for its actions without fear and favour.

My political beliefs and guiding principles are clear. I believe in shared ownership and collective responsibility, particularly at this critical juncture – making the need to strengthen our federal governance structures necessary if not inevitable. Why I am running for this position is because I believe that I am a consensus builder, independent-minded and competently able to act as a springboard to mediating between competing different interests. At this difficult time of political misunderstanding and stagnation, it is fundamental that we start building bridges to overcome the political quagmire that holds our country back.  

I believe in strengthening our federal system, and the devolution of power and government services from city to district level. The Somali constitution stipulates that federalism must be the basis of our governance until such time the constitution is amended. Respecting and solidifying our federal governance structures will prevent the abuse of power and disregard for our young democracy.

The Upper House serves as an intermediary between the federal government and its member states that make up our union. As a result, it is designed to settle any disputes between the states and the federal government. My top priority is an independent Upper House that is free for its legislative functions as enshrined in our constitution.

The purpose of government is to serve the needs of its people by providing vital services and leadership so the Somali people are able to capitalise on all the opportunities their beautiful country and the wider world offer. Therefore, our main job is to do what is best for our country and speak truth to power. This is not always easy or convenient but the public interest must be what both chambers of the Somali parliament stand for and serve. Getting me elected means getting leadership with honesty and integrity that does not simply flow where the political winds blow.

Hard decisions lie ahead for Somalia’s future and I understand the political maturity and pragmatism that is key to achieving this. The reason I am running for the position of First Deputy Speaker of Somalia’s Senate is that I believe in all of these things and that I will be nothing other than to serve its members effectively so that in turn they may serve their constituents and the federal member states proudly. 

 

The bedrock of our democracy is the independence of our government institutions. An independent Senate free from executive meddling is my number one priority. Senate can no longer be an inferior partner of the executive or even the House of the People.

Our mandate is very clear. It is to unite the country and to keep it together by ensuring that the Executive does not overreach its constitutional mandate to the point it undermines the federal governance structure of our country. We are proudly one nation, but we also have the responsibility of representing all of our constituents in the federal member states.

Furthermore, as explicitly established in the Provisional Constitution, Somalia’s bicameral parliament, the Upper House and the House of the People complement each other in fulfilling their constitutionally mandated legislative duties and responsibilities, – demonstrating the importance of key legislative functions each one is tasked with. Sadly, this has not been the case for the past few years. Therefore, both Houses now have the opportunity to address unconstitutional mistakes made towards the end of Somalia’s 10th Parliament.

The vital question is how do we do this?

First, we must work together to advance the program of the Senate

Secondly, we must engage with all those who we represent within the federal member states. We must also be able to effectively articulate their needs, hopes and dreams into genuine policy actions.

And thirdly we must be honest and act without fear or favour in the execution of our legislative duties so that the Somali Senate is a representative body of the Somali Federal member states that its Somali people can be proud of.

In conclusion, I am standing for the position of First Deputy Speaker of the Upper House, because I know I have the commitment to serve our nation to the best of my ability towards everything Allah SWT has given me. I will work closely with all Senators across the House to advance our national priorities without being consumed or wasting precious time on petty low-level politics. And finally, I will work to ensure that the Senate plays a fundamental role in the policy-making process of our country.

The oath I took as a Senator to protect and serve the Somali nation and people will be my guiding principle and the basis for all my actions as your future First Deputy Speaker. If my fellow Senators vote for me, these are the things I am confident we can achieve together.


 

Senator Ali Shacban Ibrahim – Candidate for the First Deputy Speaker of the Upper House, Federal Republic of Somalia

 

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