Somalia makes steps towards unitary government
by David Musyoka and Njoroge Kaburo
NAIROBI, June 22 (Xinhua) — Restoration of functioning elected government in Somalia came closer to reality on Friday when various factions signed a draft constitution that will be approved by a Constituent Assembly in July and form the basis of the new elected government when a new president is elected.
The draft constitution that has been negotiated for eight years now was signed by President Sheikh Shariff of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), President Abdirahman Farole of Puntland State, President Alin of Galmudug State, Mohamed Mohamud Yusuf of Ahlu Sunna Wal Jama’a and the Special representative to the Secretary General on Somalia Ambassador Augustine Mahiga of UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS).
“Today the Somali people have a draft modern constitution that can serve as a basis for a future social contract,” Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali told journalists at the end of a three-day meeting in Nairobi.
“This draft may not be perfect but it is the aggregate suggestions and opinions gathered from cross-sections of Somali society and therefore it represents the aspirations of the Somali people,” Ali said.
The draft constitution spells out priority measures to be carried out before the current transitional governing arrangements end Aug. 20.
The leaders agreed to that “the National Constituent Assembly (NCA) will now convene on July 12 and will conclude its work on July 20”.
The NCA will dissolve when it concludes its deliberations by voting on the draft for provisional adoption prior to eventual approval by the Somali people through a direct referendum.
“After August, the next parliament will serve as a constitutional review body, continuing the important work of completing the process by finalizing and delivering the provisional constitution to the Somali people in a public referendum,” the communique said.
The Horn of Africa nation is undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process after decades of warfare with its Transitional Federal institutions currently implementing a roadmap, devised in September 2011.
The leaders also selected technical selection committee, elders arbitration committee, technical facilitation committee and roadmap signatories coordination office whose names will be made public immediately by the TFG/TFIs.
Somalia’s elders, with assistance from a so-called Technical Selection Committee, are expected to select Members of Parliament to ensure that the nominees meet the criteria set out in an earlier agreement.
The signatories have collectively committed to meet the deadlines stipulated under the Addis Ababa agreement and expressed their collective resolve in ending the transition and ushering in a new political dispensation under a provisional Constitution adopted by the NCA.
The agreements reached in Addis Ababa removed procedural obstacles to the implementation of the roadmap. Ali welcomed the development which he said started in Sept. 6, 2011 in Mogadishu.
He said the Roadmap represents a pared-down and streamlined mapping out of the most pressing and priority needs of the Horn of Africa nation which has lacked an effective government for more than 2 decades.
“Although the benchmarks of Security, Good Governance and Political Outreach are key priority tasks of the Roadmap, the completion of the constitution seemed to my administration from the outset to be the most critical task to end the transition,” the PM said.
He said the Somali transitional charter established in 2004 in Nairobi called for the drafting and completion of a new Somali federal constitution that speaks to the aspirations of the Somali people.
“Building on the solid work of the Independent Federal Constitution Commission, over the past year, the Somali public has been widely consulted in cities, in villages, in refugee camps and in the Diaspora and also through the various media outlets,” Ali said.
Ali said he hoped the future generations will look back on August as the beginning of the period of hope and stability.
“Today the Somali people have a draft modern constitution that can serve as a basis for a future social contract. This draft may not be perfect but it is the aggregate suggestions and opinions gathered from cross-sections of Somali society and therefore it represents the aspirations of the Somali people,” Ali said.
He reminded the Somali people that unless they take full ownership of this historic document, it will forever remain words on a piece of paper.
“In order to become a transformative document, we must all strive to breathe life into it by building implementation and enforcement mechanisms around the constitution.”
The UN and the international community have said they will offer full support to this process for the successful ending of the transition and eventual lasting peace and stability to Somalia.
Shirka Muqdisho ee Wadatashiga – (Sept. 4 – 6, 2011).