Somaliland: Power Tussle between Central & Local Governments Over Public Land Management Negating Na


By: Osman A.M.

HARGEISA: (Somalilandsun) ; The Constitution of Somaliland establishes a bicameral parliament with two chambers consisting of House of Elders (upper house) popularly known as Guurti and House of Representatives (lower house), each chamber with composition of 82 members-whereas the latter have an electoral mandate spanning for five years the former is composed of similar numbers but membership is hereditary.

These two chambers form Somaliland’s legislative arm of Government with each performing a watchdog role of checks & balances over the other.

Their cardinal legislative functions include inter alia; enacting new laws, amending existing laws and repealing outdated legislations inherited from the former failed union with Somalia & barbaric colonial regime.

On 8th March this year, President Ahmed Mohamud Silanyo in accordance with the powers conferred to him by the constitution issued a presidential degree vide JSL/M/XERM/249-2314/032014 to the effect:

1. That public immovable properties weather developed or not in private individuals’ hands be surrendered with immediate effect.

2. That no compensation for development undertaken through illegal occupations would be provided.

3. That private individuals who have constructed residences on public properties to reimburse monetary compensation equal to the prevailing current market value of the property in question.

4. That no occupation of public land set aside for road reserves & other amenities would be accepted henceforth.

5. That any individual found to have destroyed public property to be dealt with in accordance with established laws.

6. That all State assets not in use to be sold with immediate effect & subsequent proceeds put in public coffers.

The president was guided by a number of precedents set by former Head of States viz a viz allocation & disposal of public property to private individuals in arriving at that decision.

The decree was to be implemented by a committee established under the provisions of Article 31 Section 2 of land law No: 17 of 2001 with composition of the following members of the national Government;

1. Minister for public works, housing & transport- Chairperson

2. Minister for Finance- Member

3. Attorney General- Member

4. Auditor General- Member

Following the issuance of the presidential degree, the State minister in-charge of public works housing & transport Hon. Abdirizak Khalif issued a ministerial directive solely vesting implementation to the central Government to the exclusion of the local authorities who have statutory powers in allocation & disposal of land matters.

It is the ministerial directive that resulted to furious tussle of powers that was lately witnessed in the country with local Government of Hargeisa Municipality calling a full council meeting on 11th March under the orders & subsequent chair of Deputy Mayor Hon Abdiaziz Mohamed that resolved to resist attempts advanced by the minister via his ministerial directive in stopping the council from conducting future plans pertaining to allocation & disposal or haphazardly dishing out land documents to individuals pending the initiation of work by the national committee mandated by the presidential decree.

Among the resolutions arrived at the full council meeting were that for any forfeiture on public land to be effectively carried with the authority of the council which must be consulted as it is the only institution of Government that possess inherent powers & functions derived from the administration of Regional & District statute as well as Land Management Law No: 17 of 2001.

Land issues are very emotional & if not checked properly its devastation can be very catastrophic indeed as it is a primary source of capital.

The tussle of powers between the central & local Governments must come to an end & parliament despite the two chambers being on recess must give directions as to the efficacy of implementing the two contradicting Executive directives as the body that enacted the Laws or else citizens aggrieved with the ministerial directives who intend to purchase public land at this period where no sell can take place will move to Court filling numerous constitutional interpretation suits to get redress in orders.

Osman A.M. is a Kenyan trained lawyer based in Hargeisa Somaliland and a staff with Somalilandsun.