4 October 2012
When I look back at the year that has passed, I feel really energized as it has been a very prolific year in Somalia.
I joined UNPOS in December 2010 as the Senior Constitution Adviser and at that time the Consultative Draft Constitution (CDC) was only just published. This was a milestone but it still had many gaps on key issues and it seemed difficult to gain the political support required to make progress on filling those gaps. The process seemed stuck.
The Kampala Accord was signed and paved the way for the Principals, the Somali stakeholders and the International Community including the regional states to unite around the Road Map to End the Transition. The finalization of the constitution was a central pillar to the Road Map.
Despite initial skepticism, the Somali stakeholders with the support of the international community threw their energies into this process and through a series of political consultations (in Garowe, Galkayo, Addis Ababa and Nairobi) and experts’ inputs, the Draft Provisional Constitution was shaped and submitted for provisional adoption by the National Constitution Assembly (NCA) in August 2012.
I met active young women and men in civil society, returning members of the Diaspora who became a part of this process, as members of these various committees, as part of the NCA and the NFP and as contributors of ideas.
I remember at the Garowe II meeting there was a tense moment during the discussions where people had polarizing views. An old Somali woman shouted out that women had been shut out for too long and wanted to be part of the political process. She described the sufferings of the women and she then broke out into song and all those present joined in. It was clearly a song that resonated of a happier era and it created a moment where people came together and the tension eased. It was also at Garowe that the commitment was made to provide a baseline representation for women of 30%. This was a defining moment.
At the NCA session where poets were reading out the constitution to members, discussions took place in committees and there was overwhelming support for the provisional adoption of the constitution. Even the unfortunate suicide bombing did not detract the NCA from its task. There is now a Provisional Constitution of the Federal Republic of Somalia and until a referendum is held, there is the opportunity to implement it and to improve it and review it through broader consultations.
One of my most enduring memories was observing the swearing in of the New Federal Parliament at the Mogadishu International Airport. The Somalis were totally committed to meeting the symbolic deadline for the end of transition (20 August). It was an open-air ceremony and half way through the proceedings the members broke for prayers, worshiped and the ceremony resumed. As the evening grew darker, the lights of the AMISOM and UN vehicles illuminated the site. It ended as peacefully as it began. It was a most serene evening.
*Experts from the Independent Federal Constitution Commission, Committee of Experts, Technical Harmonization Committee and Technical Review committee contributed to the finalization of the Constitution