Over the last 18 years, starting when the Arta Somalia political conference was held in Djibouti in 2000, there have been 11 governments, transitional and permanent (since 2012) including the FRS in Somalia. The high turnovers of government can be explained by the country’s political structure.
The current guiding ideology of the Federal Republic of Somalia is the 4.5 formula. Representation is allocated due to this formula. The seats in parliament are divided along these lines, the cabinet must follow this structure and all other matters relating to state must always have this ratio as the starting point. So, what is this 4.5 formula then?
Simply put, the 4.5 formula is the division of the Somali population into five groups along clan lines, where four of the five groups are the “major clans” where as the fifth group includes all other clans and peoples not covered by the first four groups. This coalition group is worth half the value of each of the other four groups in terms of political representation. Hence the name.
Like most problems to plague the Somali nation in modern times, the 4.5 formula finds its origin in the collapse of the Somali state in January 1991 following the ouster of the ruling dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. While Somalis generally began resenting the military government in the early 80s, the hatred entrenched itself once the regime started using organised violence against clans whose members were part of the rebel movements (which incidentally included most Somali clans, including the president’s own).
When the government fell, the victorious clans in the capital embarked on a revenge campaign directed at the Darod clan of the president (although the regime included representatives from all clans). This led to a Darod exodus from Mogadishu, and eventually, other clans as well. Since the capital was Mogadishu, the seat of government where all state power was concentrated, most of the bloodiest battles took place there. What all of these groups had failed to foresee was that the state would cease to exist and there would be nothing left to exercise hegemony through. By the time they were done fighting each other, there was no state left to rule.
The 4 Major Clan groups are the Darood, Dir, Hawiye, and Digil-Mirifle also known as Rahanweyn. The Dir group also includes the Isaaq clan which is the dominant force in Somaliland in the north. The 0.5 Clan or ‘Others’ groups include, but are not limited to: Madhibaan (Midgaan), Yaxar, Tumaal, Ogeyslabe, and Yibir, and other ethnically non-Somali people, such as Eeyle, Jareerweyne (Somali Bantus), Reer Xamar, Reer Baraawe and other Banaadiri clans.
The 0.5 share allocation for the “minor clans” is reflective of the general treatment meted out to members of these clans in all aspects of life. For example, many members of the so-called major clans refuse to intermarry with the 0.5 groups, to the extent where members are disowned by families if they do go ahead.
The 4.5 formula, which ostensibly was meant to provide much needed stability to Somalia, has been counterproductive and detrimental to the development of the country. Because political power in the country is divided based on clan affiliation, clan allegiance has become more important than loyalty to the state.
The Somali state cannot be revived unless the people themselves are allowed to decide how they want to be governed. The so-called clan representative should allow the people to freely express their political choices rather than always claiming to speak for them. Until the Somalis completely eradicate the abomination that is the 4.5 formula, there is no hope for the Somali state. And no one is to blame for that but the Somali people.