Devolution moves ahead in Somalia’s south west state with formation of district councils in Baidoa and Barawe

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The devolution of authority in Somalia’s federal system took another step forward in the city of Baidoa this week as senior officials of the country’s South West State launched the formation of local councils in the districts of Barawe and Baidoa.

At the launch, the Speaker of the South West State regional assembly, Abdikadir Sharif Maye, welcomed the support of the federal Ministry of Interior, Federal Affairs and Reconciliation, United Nations agencies and other partners in promoting the strengthening of federalism in Somalia.

The South West State Minister of Interior, Mohamednor Madoobe Nuunow, vowed to ensure the participation of women in the district councils that will be established in the coming weeks.

“I will assure you that the forthcoming district governing bodies of Baidoa and Barawe districts will be formed soon, and women will not be left behind,” he said at the event.

The establishment of district councils in the state kicked off with the formation of a council in Hudur district earlier this year and the inauguration of a mayor last October. The district of Bardale is currently in the process of establishing a council.

A local representative of the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) also addressed the launch, stressing the importance of reserving seats in the district councils for women and representatives of minority communities in the state.

“In the voting for parliamentary seats in the 2016 electoral process, South West State met the gender quota for women participation. As we are moving to the next phase, I strongly encourage similar consideration for women and minority clans,” UNSOM’s Deputy Head of Office in South West State, Usman Dogar, said.

According to the South West State constitution, the district councils of Baidoa and Barawe will consist of 27 seats each, and two of the seats will be set aside for women. Members of each council will be chosen by 150 designated voters, and the newly-elected members will then choose a mayor from among their ranks.

This week’s district council launching event was attended by representatives of the UN Development Programme (UNDP), the International Labor Organization (ILO) and the UN Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat).

The formation of district councils in South West state is taking place under the terms of a local government law that was approved by the state’s regional assembly and formally adopted last July. The principle of the devolution of powers was enshrined in Chapter Five of Somalia’s provisional federal constitution of 2012.