Somalia: New Constitution Creates Rifts
Filed Under: Politics, World | Posted: 06/21/2012 at 10:19AM
Comments | Region: Somalia
Written by Ndesanjo Macha
Somalia  has never had a central government controlling the entire country since the fall of Muhammad Siad Barre  in 1991. The Transitional Federal Government (TFG) is the internationally recognized government of the Republic of Somalia.
After political discussions in Ethiopian, leaders of various Somali parties agreed to political steps  to end the transitional period and elect a new president. One of the steps outlined in a detailed timetable is the drafting of a new constitution.
Technical Revision Committee for the new constitution participated in a 4-day working session in Nairobi:
"A four-day working session with the Signatories’ Technical Revision Committee has been concluded in Nairobi. The working session is a follow up to the recent Addis Signatories’ meeting were most of the constitutional issues were agreed and some of the provisions – prepared by the Independent Federal Constitution Commission – have been amended after congenial political negotiations between the signatories of the Roadmap to end the transition, which was adopted in Mogadishu last September. The technical Revision Committee’s mandate as per Addis Ababa’s Communiqué is to complete the constitutional process.
The Minister of Constitutional Affairs who convened the meeting explained to the participants and the media that “that road towards ending of the transition is getting closer and closer by the day, and we need to collectively work towards delivering a constitution that Somalia deserves and which serves its people."
Mahad Abdalle Awad, Deputy-Minister Ministry of Planning International Cooperation in Somalia, is optimistic that the country will soon have a new constitution:
"Fearmongers use scare tactics to influence public opinion to impede change and progress by disseminating false information about the draft constitution and the planned Constituent Assembly meeting. Naysayers, natural skeptics and cynical people among us, habitually express negativity about the accomplishment of others and are pessimistic about change. Dale Carnegie’s famous quote fittingly describes the nature of Naysayers when he wrote “Any fool can criticize, condemn and complain, and most fools do.”
These Naysayers often spread blatant lies to oppose anything other people do. In the case of the Constituent Assembly, they assert that the constitution can only be approved by popular referendum, disregarding discernible historical fact that the Somali Republic itself was founded by the 1960 Constitution, approved by Constituent Assembly of only 110 delegates, and a process that took only 29 days, whereby public referendum was held 21st of July 1961, after more than one year."
However, Mohamed Ali Hassan, Chairman of the Somali-American Peace Council and Manuela Melandri, PhD candidate at University College London, note that most Somalis look at the draft constitution with deep skepticism:
"The optimism of the international community is not shared by Somalis themselves, who instead look with deep skepticism at a document that they perceive as externally-imposed, faulty and fundamentally undemocratic.
To understand this dynamic, one should start by questioning the facts. What is wrong with the new Somali Constitution and why has the adoption of this document been met with resistance by educated Somalis, religious figures, secularists, former Somali Prime Ministers, women, scholars and by Somali Diaspora organizations?
First, there are issues concerning the content of the Constitution and the substance of its provisions.
Above all, the question of federalism remains deeply divisive. Views can be found both in support of and against Somalia adopting a federal structure."
But one Somali argue that the new constitution can be improved in the future. Somalis do not have time to wait for a a perfect constitution:
"It appears that the UN-wise roadmap for Somalia is nothing but part of a plan of perfidy to keep Somalia and the Somalis in turmoil. Instead of liberating the true Somalis, who need and want to continue living in and developing their own country and their communities inside Somalia, the planned constitution appears as the manifestation of the shackles of foreign as well as internal oppression of the indigenous Somali people in perpetuity…"
Most Somalis and their scholars doubt that it is the right time to engage in the process of forming a new constitution during an era of civil strife and turmoil in Somalia and wonder why millions of dollars have been spent by the players from the so-called international community to re-invent the wheel, while the existing Somali constitution could just be amended if any real need would be given and legally as well as representatively expressed – reflecting the true and free will of the Somali people.
According to insiders FGM [Transitional Federal Government] is now permitted by the newly proposed Somali constitution, which will be presented for adoption to selected “traditional leaders”. A typical scheme how the UN and their stooges want to get it their way – or the way their master wants it.
Abduallhi Jamaa analyses various arguments about the draft constitution appearing online, vernacular radios and in village meetings and cafes:
Analysts say the proposed law is seemingly a milestone, but one that may fracture Somalia further into autonomous and semi-autonomous regions as well as ministates.
“There is absolute confusion. There wasn’t any civic education to put across the letter and spirit of the proposed laws and this means that most people are not comfortable with the contents, many more have not heard about the whole process,” he [Hassan Sheikh, the leader of the Party of Peace and Development] told Somalia Report.."
Google Ideas developed a pilot project with the Somali service, Africa Division of Voice of America (VOA) to help Somalis register their opinions with just a few clicks. The poll shows, among other things, that Somalis want a Somalia based on the civil and criminal codes of Sharia, a strong central government and are divided over the inclusion of women in government.
Source: Global Voices