Somalia leaders meet at African Union headquarters for constitution, elections process 22 May 22, 2012 - 1:23:30 AM
ADDIS ABABA, Ethiopia May 21, 2012 (Garowe Online) -- Key leaders in Somalia met in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Monday aiming to discuss critical issues relating to the war-torn country’s new constitution and the upcoming election process, Garowe Online reports.
The meeting opened up at 4pm at the African Union headquarters building in Addis Ababa. The three leaders of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government – President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, and Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden – attended the meeting organized by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) under the leadership of Tanzanian diplomat Dr. Augustine Mahiga.
Key Somali leaders, including Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole, and officials from Galmudug region and Ahlu Sunna group, attended the meeting of principals as signatories of the UN-backed Roadmap agreement and the subsequent Garowe Principles I and II and the Galkayo Principles. The international community was represented by ambassadors and diplomats from the African Union, IGAD, European Union, Arab League, the U.S., the U.K. and other countries.
Dr. Mahiga, the UN Special Envoy to Somalia and head of UNPOS, opened the meeting by stating that the meeting of principals intends to give an opportunity for key Somali leaders to discuss the progress achieved and the remaining tasks ahead of the end of the transitional period, slated for 20 August 2012.
He stated that the meeting aims to discuss the new constitution, the elders meeting and selection process for the National Constituent Assembly and Federal Parliament.
The UN diplomat declared that Somalia's international partners “shall not support any extension of the TFG” and urged Somali leaders move the process forward to end the transition.
Speaking about the traditional elders, Dr. Mahiga indicated the international community’s disappointment with the management of the elders’ meeting in Mogadishu, suggesting that “political ambitions” were at play as TFG politicians competing for influence ahead the parliamentary and presidential elections had interfered with the elders’ meeting.
He spoke of hearing “reports from Mogadishu that some people are declaring that they are members of the new parliament, while we have not even reached that stage yet. I urge for transparency in the management of the elders role to ensure that quality persons are nominated for the National Constituent Assembly to provisionally adopt the new draft constitution and a new quality parliament forms for Somalia.”
Dr. Mahiga urged Somali leaders to move the process forward in a transparent manner, adding that he remains “confident that the transition can be ended on time in a Somali-owned process.”
AU Special Envoy to Somalia, Jerry Rawlings, Ghana’s former president, expressed his appreciation that the Somali leaders had gathered for a meeting to discuss the future of the country. He urged Somali leaders to “adhere to the signed agreements” and noted the progress made so far in security and moving the political process forward.
IGAD Facilitator for Somalia Kipruto Kirwa highlighted the political process in Somalia since the TFG was formed in 2004 and emphasized the importance of the ending the transition so Somalia can have a permanent federal government. Diplomats from Western countries who were present did not address the opening day of the meeting, while Ethiopian officials were noticeably absent from the meeting.
TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed spoke briefly, addressing security gains in Mogadishu, as well as the citing achievements in the political process.
“There is more tasks left but we feel that we are moving forward towards ending the transition and completing the Roadmap tasks,” said President Sharif.
Prime Minister Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali noted progress in the Roadmap tasks and expressed his confidence that the remaining tasks could be completed on time, adding: “After 12 years, Somalia is ready to complete the transition.”
Addressing the new draft constitution, Prime Minister Ali said: “The concerns and contributions of the Roadmap signatories are valid and will be considered.”
TFG Constitution Minister Abdi Hosh, a side speaker, stated that the new draft constitution “was not drafted by the TFG but by an expert committee.” He noted that concerns about the new draft constitution will be considered and the TFG was “open to ideas.”
Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole said in his statement that Puntland government had “suggested a meeting of principals” to further discuss the new constitution and the ongoing political process.
President Farole said Puntland government wrote its criticism of the new draft constitution and shared with TFG and other Somali stakeholders, as well as the international community. President Farole called on the Somali leaders to “focus on the interest of the nation” and expressed his hope that the meeting would produce an outcome that gives “renewed hope to the Somali people.”
Puntland’s leader said that the new constitution “should not list federal powers” until a federal constitution is negotiated and agreed among “federated states” in Somalia. President Farole also called for the consultation of states like Puntland when Cabinet appointments are made in the emerging Somali government, “to ensure representation and participation” of states at the national level.
President Farole said: “There has been widespread speculation that Puntland Government played a major role in the drafting process for the Draft Federal Constitution. I am hereby informing the Somali public, the Somali stakeholders, and the international community that Puntland Government received a copy of the Draft Federal Constitution for the first time on 30 April 2012, and as such, Puntland Government was not involved at any stage in the drafting process for the new Constitution, while Puntland has a legitimate right to be involved as other Somali stakeholders.”
Ahlu Sunna official Mohamed Mohamud AwLibah (the lion) accused TFG leaders of “interfering with the elders meeting for political purposes” and completely rejected a new proposition that Somali elders are taken to Turkey.
“Somali elders should play a positive role and help us complete the political process. After that, the elders can go vacation in Europe,” said AwLibah, among leaders of the pro-government Ahlu Sunna group in Gedo region of southwestern Somalia.
Reports that there was a new plan to take Somali traditional elders to Turkey for yet-unclear reasons has been rejected by key Somali leaders and powerful countries in the international community, including the U.S., according to confidential sources.
Galmudug President Mohamed Ahmed Alin told the gathering he has “no political ambitions” to lead Somalia, adding: “So I urge the leaders who want high positions in Somalia to work hard and honesty for the country.”
Dr. Mahiga, the UN envoy who chaired the meeting as head of UNPOS, closed the meeting by appealing to the Somali leaders to work together and come up with a solution to move forward the process of ending the transition. Since April 2011, the international community under Dr. Mahiga’s leadership has accelerated efforts to assist Somalia achieve a new permanent government for the first time since 1991.
Somali leaders are supposed to convene over the coming two days in Addis Ababa to discuss in detail major issues and the timetable for completing key tasks ahead of upcoming events, including provision adoption of a new constitution, election of a new bicameral parliament in accordance with the Garowe Principles agreements, and the anticipated presidential elections.