2nd Somalia National Constitutional Conference opens in Puntland capital 15 Feb 15, 2012 - 7:34:13 PM
GAROWE, Somalia Feb 15, 2012 (Garowe Online) – A national conference opened in northern Somalia’s stable Puntland State on Wednesday whereby Somali delegates will discuss the country’s future federal constitution, Radio Garowe reports.
Garowe II Conference
The conference opened at Puntland State University compound in Garowe, capital of Puntland. More than 180 delegates were present for the opening session, which featured speeches by Somali leaders and international diplomats.
The opening ceremony was attended by the host, Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, and Puntland Vice President Abdisamad Ali Shire.
Garowe II Conference
Somali attendees included Somali Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, TFP Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Galmudug leader Mohamed Ahmed Alin, representatives from pro-government Ahlu Sunna group, civil society members including traditional elders, women’s groups and journalists.
UN Special Envoy to Somalia Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, African Union’s Deputy Representative to Somalia Wafula Wamunyinyi, IGAD Facilitator for Somalia Kipruto Arap Kirwa, as well as numerous representatives from UN agencies and international organizations were present at the opening ceremony of Garowe II conference.
Furthermore, a Djiboutian government delegation led by Islamic Affairs Minister Hamud Abdi Sultan was present and the Djiboutian minister addressed the opening ceremony.
TFP Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden
TFG of Somalia
TFP Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden spoke briefly and remarked that his hope for the conference is to produce a clear plan for the constitutional process.
“We need a constitution to end the transition,” said the Speaker, who thanked the people and government of Puntland for hosting the conference.
TFG Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
TFG Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, who delivered a speech in both Somali and English languages, spoke at length about the nature of federalism and why Somalia adopted the federal system of government.
“There is some confusion about federalism. But what is important to emphasize is that the federal system allows the sovereignty of the federal government, the state and the individual,” said Somalia’s Prime Minister.
He commented about the monumental tasks ahead and remarked that “deliverables were not particularly focused to produce best outcome.”
Prime Minister Abdiweli said: “The constitution is a key guiding document to end the transition in Somalia.”
President Abdirahman Farole of Puntland
President Farole of Puntland welcomed all delegations to Garowe. He thanked Puntland government forces for maintaining law and order across Puntland and he also thanked the Puntland people for welcoming fellow Somalis with open arms.
“We are happy that the second conference is being held in Somalia. This proves that the people’s attitude about security in Somalia is changing and is conforming to reality on the ground,” said President Farole.
He criticized the international community for mentioning only TFG and AMISOM forces as fighting the war against Al Shabaab terrorist group. President Farole stated Puntland is at the “frontline” in the war, as Puntland soldiers conducted a military campaign to dislodge Al Shabaab terrorists in the Golis Mountain Range (Galgala area) in 2010.
Speaking about the constitution, President Farole said: “The agreed-upon constitution will help move forward the democratic process in Somalia. The constitution will also bring the opposition to the negotiation table so that all issues can be resolved peacefully through dialogue.”
Puntland’s leader said there was “some concern” regarding the formation of the National Constituent Assembly (NCA), which is expected to provisionally adopt the Somali Federal Constitution in May 2012. President Farole said: “The NCA selection process using the 4.5 clan formula contradicts the idea of constituency, therefore I urge the conference delegates to debate and resolve this issue.”
Galmudug leader Mohamed Ahmed Alin thanked the people and government of Puntland for welcoming the Somali delegates to Garowe.
Mr. Alin complained about resource-sharing, saying: “There are companies who bring weapons to TFG in Mogadishu. Galmudug does not receive its share and there are reports that some of the weapons end up in the hands of terrorists.”
The Galmudug leader condemned the surge of insecurity in Galmudug areas, including the suicide bombing in south Galkayo on 31 January 2012. Mr. Alin welcomed the upcoming London Conference and urged Somalis to work together.
Djibouti Islamic Affairs Minister Hamid Abdi Sultan
Djiboutian Minister for Islamic Affairs, Mr. Hamud Abdi Sultan, offered a passionate speech at the opening ceremony.
Minister Sultan congratulated Puntland on the hosting of the Puntland football tournament that concluded in Garowe last week, saying that the sports event “brought people together.”
Continuing, Minister Sultan said: “A constitution from the Somali people is needed from the Somali leaders. This process needs to be free from corruption.”
The Djiboutian minister stated: “The situation in Somalia is dire and intervention from educated Somalis is needed now to rescue Somalia. Djibouti stands ready to assist the brotherly people of Somalia.”
Mr. Wafula Wamunyinyi, the African Union’s Deputy Representative to Somalia, told the conference that Somalia is in a crucial period and needs support from its neighbors and the wider international community.
The official said TFG forces and African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) have successfully squeezed Al Shabaab terrorists from most of Mogadishu.
“Newly liberated areas should have local authority set up in order to prevent a power vacuum and the potential return of terror groups,” said the African Union official.
Ambassador Kipruto Arap Kirwa, the IGAD Facilitator for Somalia, thanked the people and government of Puntland State for hosting the conference.
“I commend the people and government of Puntland for maintaining stability here in Puntland. This proves that the Somali people are capable of liberating themselves from insecurity and managing state affairs,” said the IGAD Facilitator for Somalia. IGAD is a seven-member regional bloc which includes Somalia, Ethiopia, Djibouti and Uganda, among other East African countries.
Ambassador Augustine Mahiga, the UN Special Envoy to Somalia, offered a lengthy speech touching on many issues.
He said: “Recent achievements in Puntland and Somalia as a whole have been a miracle. It was a miracle to see TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed walking in Garowe, as it was a miracle when President Farole of Puntland traveled to Mogadishu last September.”
UN Special Envoy Amb. Augustine Mahiga
Ambassador Mahiga said he was encouraged recent developments in Somalia, including security gains in Mogadishu, the political process under the Roadmap, and the upcoming London Conference.
The UN Special Envoy stated: “The world is watching and this is the reason for the London Conference. Puntland represents a success model in Somalia, because it shows the value of stability at state-level but embraces a unified Somalia.”
The 2nd Somalia National Constitutional Conference, popularly known as Garowe II Conference, is scheduled to close on February 17 after much discussion and deliberation among delegates from all corners of Somalia regarding the country’s future constitution.
Puntland, located in northeastern Somalia at the tip of the Horn of Africa, has been relatively stable since the 1990s with its own state government, security forces and policies.