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Somalia meets over federal
Constitution

The East African
Jan 01, 2012

The final draft of the Somalia Constitution will be completed in April 2012 to allow for elections in August, when the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government ends.

The decision to finalise the constitution by the first quarter of next year, was one of the many resolutions during the first Constitutional Conference held in Garowe, Puntland between December 21 and 23.

The fact that the meeting was held in Puntland and attended by the leader of another breakaway region, Galmudug, is an indication that the entire former Somalia, except Somaliland, are keen to unite into a single entity.

The conference was facilitated by the United Nations under the auspices of the Special Representative of the Secretary General for Somalia.

The Constitution will be drafted by a National Constituent Assembly that will be nominated by all the signatories to the Constitutional Roadmap. It shall comprise 1,000 delegates of whom 30 per cent will be women.

Kenya has indicated that it is in Somalia until the country becomes peaceful, but a national consultation on the constitution might force Kenya to change its strategies.

Foreign Affairs Minister, Moses Wetangula said that the Somalia constitutional process has been going on for five years and by helping TFG to get rid of Al-Shabaab, Kenya is essentially helping to accelerate the constitutional writing process.

However, Somalia experts are skeptical on whether the new arrangement will hold given the history of clan problems and recent trends in which some regions have expressed interest to become autonomous.

For instance, the conference was suspended for several hours when Puntland and TFG officials could not agree on the controversial 4.5 formula.

Dr Mohamed Ali, an expert on Somalia affairs argued that the arrangement is a double-edged sword. It might work because Puntland has always exhibited goodwill although it is autonomous but some regions that have enjoyed freedom since 1991 might resist on the basis of resources and economic interests like it happened recently between TFG and Puntland over oil explorations.

The 4.5 formula developed at a peace conference in Nairobi in 2004 gives equal quotas for representation in government to the four major clans, and a half-point to the fifth, the cluster of minority clans.

Still, the Constitution will be a federal one that will contain clear guidelines on power relations between the states and federal government with a bicameral parliament.

Since the prevailing security situation will not permit direct elections, it was agreed that the lower house of the new federal parliament will be selected on the basis of the 4.5 formula.

The new Somalia Federal Parliament shall comprise of 225 members, with 20 per cent women representation.

Members of the new federal parliament, expected to come into effect by June 2012, will be nominated by recognised traditional elders assisted by qualified civil society members, none of whom have any political aspirations.

However, the next elections will be conducted through the ballot in case stability returns to Somalia.

The deliberations were based on the Transitional Federal Charter that gave birth to the TFG in Nairobi in 2004, the Djibouti Agreement that increased the number of MPs and saw the election of President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed, and the Kampala Accord and Roadmap that extended the mandate of TFG to August 2012 and set the programme for elections.

While the 4.5 formula has been hailed for bringing about inclusiveness in the face of Al-Shabaab threat, the new constitution will not include any provisions using the 4.5 formula and will not be amended to include the formula in future.

BOX ITEMS

-1991: Collapse of the Siad Barre government and the country sinks into chaos.
-2004: Creation of TFG in Nairobi

-November 2008: The Djibouti Agreement between TFG and the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) the led by Sheikh Shariff Ahmed.

- The agreement expanded Parliament with additional 200 new seats for an alliance of opposition parties and 75 reserved for civil society groups, doubling the size of the current body to 550.

-June 2011: The Kampala Accord extended the life of TFG by 12 months and provided a roadmap for constitutional consultations and elections by August 2012.

Source: The East African

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