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Somali parliament unanimously approves rules for constitutional amendments

Wednesday January 24, 2024

MOGADISHU  (HOL) - Somalia's Parliament, encompassing both chambers, unanimously passed a resolution on Wednesday in Mogadishu, establishing procedural rules for amending the nation's constitution. Speaker of the People's Assembly, Sheikh Adan Madobe, reported that 180 lawmakers voted in favour against 30 dissenting MPs, marking a significant stride in finalizing Somalia's long-awaited constitution.

The approval came amid concerns voiced by former presidents Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo and Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, along with parliament members, regarding potential political rifts. These apprehensions stem from possible constitutional alterations without broad consensus, especially following Ethiopia's emphasis on Somalia's territorial integrity, post the Memorandum of Understanding with Somaliland.

Today's parliamentary session witnessed tumultuous moments, as reported by Abdirizak Mohamed, the Minister of Petroleum & Mineral Resources. Mohamed stated, "The parliament is a sacred place & a space for members of parliament to debate & express their views freely. Regrettably, that cardinal rule was violated today when an MP smuggled in a handgun to instigate violence. I urge the speaker of the HoP to enforce house rules to the fullest."

Another lawmaker, Senator Marian Farah Kahiye, noted the presence of non-MP individuals in suits and glasses in the parliamentary sessions as unusual.

Despite adopting the Somali Provisional Constitution in 2012, a range of challenges has delayed the envisaged four-year comprehensive constitutional review. Former Lower House speaker Mohammad Osman Jawari commended the current administration for reaching preliminary agreements on vital issues but cautioned that unresolved matters persist, which requires widespread agreement for any constitutional amendments. 

In May last year, the National Consultative Council, including federal and regional leaders, agreed to introduce direct elections and unify election schedules this year. They also supported a presidential system for Somalia.

Local council elections are set to take place on June 30, followed by regional parliamentary and regional leadership elections on November 30. The leaders had agreed that only two political parties would compete for power in the country. It's worth noting that the current political parties law does not limit the number of political parties.

Despite opposition to the constitutional amendments from former high-ranking officials and Puntland leaders, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's government remains committed to these changes. President Mohamud is expected to engage in political dialogues during the inauguration of Puntland leaders in Garowe on Thursday.



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