Sunday, December 25, 2011

US-backed Somalian Officials Sign Garowe Principles At Constitutional Conference

Last Updated: Dec 25, 2011 - 1:11:48 PM


Somalia leaders sign Garowe Principles at Constitutional Conference

24 Dec 24, 2011 - 7:28:08 PM

GAROWE, Somalia Dec 24, 2011 (Garowe Online) – The constitutional conference that opened in Puntland capital of Garowe in northern Somalia ended Saturday with the signing of the Garowe Principles, Radio Garowe reports.

The conference, which was hosted by the Puntland government, was attended by the senior leadership of Somalia’s UN-backed Transitional Federal Government (TFG), leaders from Puntland, Galmudug and members of pro-government Ahlu Sunna group.

A closing ceremony was held at Puntland State University (PSU) conference hall in Garowe, where TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole gave speeches supporting the Garowe Principles.

TFG Constitution Minister Abdirahman Hosh and Puntland’s State Minister for Democratization and Federal Affairs, Dr. Abdi Hassan Jimale, briefed the audience about the discussions and the process that ended with the signing of the Garowe Principles.

New federal parliament

According to the new agreement, Somalia will have a bicameral legislature with an upper house of representatives from the federal states.

The new bicameral federal parliament will come into being in June 2016. Between June 2012 and June 2016, the Somali federal parliament will have one House of Representatives with 225 MPs selected on the clan-based 4.5 formula. The new parliament will allocate 20% of all seats to women, according to the Garowe Principles.

Somalia, with a population of around 9million people, currently has a 550-seat parliament. In recent weeks, parliamentarians in Mogadishu have used fist fighting inside parliament hall after a disagreement over Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.

The 4.5 clan formula as selection criteria will be used for the new parliament only. According to the new agreement, the new Somali federal parliament that comes into power in June 2016 will not be based on 4.5 clan formula and will be elected based on constituencies.

A National Constituent Assembly of 1,000 delegates, including 30% allocation for women delegates, will convene in May 2012 to vote “yes or no” on the new Federal Constitution, according to the document.

Mr. Christian Manahl, the UN Deputy Special Envoy to Somalia, told the audience that the “conference is a success. We have reached a deal.”

A representative from IGAD regional bloc said: “Problems in Somalia is a problem for the whole IGAD region. The IGAD leadership wants Somalis to resolve disputes among themselves and to make political and security progress. IGAD supports the Roadmap and this conference.”

Historic moment

President Farole told the audience that the signing of this agreement marks a historic moment for Somalis.

“As I said on the first day of the conference, Somalis will talk to each other, will debate and discuss, but they will not leave each other in dispute. I pray to Almighty Allah for a united and peaceful Somalia,” said Puntland’s leader.

He commented on 4.5 clan formula, saying: “Have you ever seen a half-person? This 4.5 formula is unfair and divides our people. But we compromised with our colleagues in light of the political and security situation in Somalia today.”

TFG President Sharif thanked President Farole and the government and people of Puntland State for hosting this constitutional conference.

“I especially want to thank Puntland government forces who have taken a massive role in the security of the conference and the delegates. I also want to thank the public for cooperating with the security forces,” said President Sharif.

Continuing, the TFG leader said: “I appeal to all Somalis to forgive each other and to work together. This is the only way we can collectively liberate Somalia from the invaders with many names – Al Shabaab and Al Qaeda terrorists.”

The Somali constitutional conference, which opened in Garowe on Dec. 21, concluded with the signing of the Garowe Principles in an atmosphere of peace and dialogue.

The Garowe Principles was signed by: TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed; TFP Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden; TFG Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali; Puntland President Abdirahman Mohamed Farole; Galmudug leader Mohamed Ahmed Alin; Ahlu Sunna representative Sheikh Mohamed Mohamud Yusuf “Aw Libah”; and UN Deputy Special Envoy Christian Manahl, who signed on behalf of the international community.

In Jan. 2012, another constitutional conference – part of the Roadmap process – will be held in Garowe, according to the signed document.

Puntland State, located in northeastern Somalia, has had its own state government since 1998 and has played a role in national politics by supporting federalism and the TFG in Mogadishu. The constitutional conference held in Garowe marks the first time in 20 years that a national conference was held inside Somalia.

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