A year in retrospective – by Sakuntala Kadirgamar, UNPOS Senior Constitution Adviser
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
Open letter to Somali Parliamentarians
SRSG Augustine Mahiga
Mogadishu, 6 September 2012
My brothers and sisters, As-Salaamu Alaikum. I write to you as we approach a truly momentous day for all Somalis. After two decades of civil war, a collapsed state and innumerable indignities to the proud Somali people, we are hours away from the election of a new President—the event that will completely end the transitional period and move us towards a phase of political and socio-economic transformation.
Read the full letter on the UNPOS website
The Vote in Somalia
UNPOS SRSG Augustine Mahiga
Mogadishu, 5 September 2012
These are remarkable days in Somalia. After more than two decades of war and civil strife, the Somali people have taken matters into their own hands and in quick succession have achieved the series of benchmarks necessary to end the transitional period and move forward to a new more legitimate and representative political dispensation. In the past few weeks we have seen the convening of a National Constituent Assembly which adopted a provisional Constitution, we have witnessed the standing up and successful completion of the work of a Technical Selection Committee, we have cheered at the inauguration of a new federal Parliament and the election of a Speaker and deputies. And now we are only days away from an historic presidential election.
My contacts with the Speaker, Mr. Jawari, have convinced me that he is the right man for the job at this critical moment. Parliament is the highest sovereign body in the land and as its leader he deserves our support and our trust during these decisive times.
So let me take this opportunity to congratulate our new Parliamentarians for the progress they have made so far. The future of Somalia depends on each and every legislator voting for whomever they believe can best lead their country. I encourage them to carry out this sacred trust free from any external influence. The vote will be carried out by secret ballot and I call on all Parliamentarians to do their civic duty and vote with their heart and their conscience.
Somali Presidential election date set for 10 September is “yet another positive step towards ending the transitional period and ushering in a new, more representative Somali government,” says UN Envoy Mahiga.
The Newly formed Presidential Election Committee met in Mogadishu yesterday and agreed on a date for the Somali Presidential election - to be held on Monday, 10 September.
Read the full Webstory on the UNPOS website.
UNPOS DSRSG Peter de Clercq discusses the Technical Selection Committee from Mogadishu
12 July 2012
Over the last few days, much of my time has been spent facilitating the standing up of the Technical Selection Committee (TSC) for the selection of the National Constituent Assembly and the New Federal Parliament. The TSC was expressly created to provide quality control to the political selection process of the three most important bodies in recent Somali history: the council of traditional elders, which provides the names of candidates for the Constituent Assembly and Parliament; the National Constituent Assembly, which will approve the provisional Constitution; and the New Federal Parliament which will govern this country for the next four years until Somalia has universal, popular elections. This independent committee has the essential task of communicating with the public and thus ensuring credibility, transparency and integrity of the process. This will allow Somalis inside and outside the country to put their faith in the process and will build confidence that their future representatives were selected based on objective criteria.
As I leave Mogadishu for a few days before returning to support the process, I’m buoyed, energized and inspired by the motivation of our Somali colleagues in the TSC, many of whom have left their comfortable lives in North America, Europe and Australia to come home and contribute to the political future of their country. These women and men from the diaspora are doing so at great risks to themselves and at great personal expense, leaving behind well paid jobs and secure living environments. They believe that Somalia is at a cross-roads, and that their contribution and commitment can and will make a difference at this defining moment. I’m invigorated being part of such an experience. It is this commitment and momentum that will take us forward. It is a sign of stability and, I hope, will signal a turning point in this torn and devastated country.