Re-inventing Somalia: Crafting Self-governing States for Federal Somalia

By IndepthAfrica
In Article
Feb 11th, 2013

By: Abdulkadir Abiikar Hussein

To bounce back to normalcy and stability, Somalia is using its traditions. In the Somali traditions, the basic social, political and territorial unit is the clan and its lineage structures. The present government structure was built on 4.5 (4 units, each having 1 and the fifth group as having 0.5). For the cabinet this has changed to 5.0 (The five clans as having each 1 unit). This was the formula used for the government posts: Parliament, cabinet, judiciary, commissions and civil and public services.

But Somalia has to move on and translate the clans into territorial units that correspond to the physical territories of the Somali clan-families or consortiums. From the north to the south, we will have the following federal territories: Somaliland (Adal), Khaatumo-Maakhir, Punt, Galmudug, Shabeelle, Asal and Jubba. Please see the map.

In the real life, Somalia is using consociational democracy model. This type of democracy offers solutions to a deeply divided society, like Somalia, in which the people are highly segmented and deeply divided. Furthermore, it is suitable to a country recovering from deep wounds inflicted by fiercely competing groups or clans. It offers hope by laying a rigid unshakable foundation for democracy to thrive in the years to come and give opportunity for a lasting peace. Consociational engineering is the most promising way to achieve stable democracy in strongly segmented Somalia. Future conflict is managed by its structures of decentralised power augmented by proportional representation.


Consociational democracy is defined as a political model which brings together distinct communities, such as clans in shared decision making, whilst protecting the interests of the minority. Advocates for consociational democracy, define four conditions necessary for its success in any country:

  • A grand coalition cross-cutting the clans and the autonomous states
  • Proportionality in public positions (not just in elections, but in everything, e.g. cabinets, parliament, civil service)
  • Protecting the minorities in the Constitution
  • Segmental authority or autonomous (or self-governing) states corresponding to the clan-groups.

Somalia is already using some of the structures of consociational governance, such as proportionality which will later need to evolve from 4.5 (or 5.0) for the 5 clan-consortium to proportionality based on the number of population in each state. Each Self-state will get a number of Member of Parliaments equal to the size of its population. Likewise, public positions will be distributed in the same way.

Carving the states:

Somali clans have started grouping themselves along clan sentiments (primordial) and thus want to design each group its autonomous state by themselves. They are very excited, optimistic and genuine to undertake this activity and present the interests of the clan consortium. However, the interest of one consortium may be overarching on another’s claim. Signs of scuffles and disagreements are already appearing.  These problems may escalate to conflict if it is not managed properly right from now. An example is the six-regional proposal of Baydhabo and the Jubbaland proposal of Kismayo. This is already making confusion and even creating threats to the government’s stability.

Carving the states is the work of the government. The government has to choose professionals from the Somali people, and elite group specialised in demography, geographic information systems (GIS) and in the distribution of the clans in Somalia so that the interests of the contesting groups are fairly served. In addition the elite group should think of the economic viability of each state and formulate a map of the autonomous states.

Once the boundaries of the autonomous states are marked, then it is the people of that defined territory to share power and carry out accommodations and compromises and finalise power and resource sharing by consensus.

Existing Self-states and the potentially emerging Self-states:

The existing and the potentially emerging states can be summarised as following:

State name
Definition of boundary with neighbours
Main city
1 Somaliland (Adal)

The border line to the east passes through west of Buhoodle through east of Caynabo to east of Ceergaabo to the Gulf of Aden.

2 Khaatumo-Maakhir

The border of the east is defined by the former Italian Somaliland and British Somaliland

3 Punt

A line starting from Garacad on the Indian Ocean dividing Galkacyo into East and West and going to the west to the Ethiopian border

4 Galmudug

The southern border is defined by the southern border of Galgaduud Region. It is made from South Mudug and Galgaduud regions.

East Gaalkacyo
5 Shabelle

Hiiraan, Middle Shabelle, excluding Mogadishu, east of Shabeelle River , along a narrow coastal area; east of Afgooye, east of Qoryooley on the river,  until Xaramka where the border goes north-west to Caanoole on the Jubba River, south of Bu’aale town. Then the border line follows the Jubba River where it joins the Indian Ocean.

6 Asal

Mesopotamia (The state between the 2 Rivers of Somalia)

The eastern border line is defined by the border between Bakool and Hiiraan, and Bay and Middle Shabeele. The southern border is defined by the Shabeele River, until near Haramka where it goes west to Caanoole town, south of Bu’aale. The western border is defined by where the Juba River flows into Somalia , east of Doolow, east of Luuq, Buurdhuubo, Baardheere, Saakow and Bu’aale. Mainly it is the Mesopotamia of Somalia (the land between the two rivers.)

7 Jubba

The eastern border is defined by the Jubba River starting where it flows into Somalia: West Doolow, west Luuq, and west of the River Jubba from Baardhere, Saakow, Bu’aale, Jilib, Jammaame and up to where the Jubba river flows into the Indian Ocean.

Federal Territories:


A city that comes directly under the Federal jurisdiction


Baajuni islands

Small islands off the south-east coast of Somalia to Ras Kaambooni to protect the Baajuni way of life and the marine environement.


Offshore waters beyond the
Continental shelf

The water beyond the continental shelf will come under the jurisdiction of the Federal Institutions.

The Federal Constitution:

The constitution needs to get amended in order to accommodate the territorial units and the entities described herein. The power of the self-states (self-governing states) and resources sharing also need to be defined clearly so that no argument arises and conflict is pre-empted.

See below the map (pdf) of the proposed self-governing states and the federal units:

Abdulkadir Abiikar Hussein

This post has already been read 10 times!