Mogadishu – A three-day public outreach meeting to drum up support for the adoption of a new, permanent Constitution of Somalia has concluded in Mogadishu, with a call to ensure that the views of youth, women, elders and persons with disabilities are taken into consideration when finalizing the document.
“We are hopeful that after the national elections are over, there will be one big national forum to review all the feedback received. What is remaining for the completion of this process is dialogue. It is for the leaders to converge and agree in order for the constitutional review process to be completed,” said Salah Ahmed Jama, the federal Minister of Constitutional Affairs.
“Such public consultations are critical,” added Minister Jama. “This is why we keep coming back to you for your views and recommendations, so that they are captured into the final document.”
Organized by the federal Ministry of Constitutional Affairs (MoCA), with the support of the United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM), the event was attended by over 70 participants including legal experts, political scientists, scholars, and representatives of the youth, women, elders and persons with disabilities.
Abdifatah Hassan Kalga’al, a participant at the event, welcomed the review process for being inclusive of the perspectives and priorities of vulnerable or marginalized persons, and of those with special needs.
“The rights of persons with disabilities should be guaranteed in the Constitution. These rights include political representation, rights to education and employment, as well as access to public buildings and social amenities. We are here to lobby for these rights. If the Constitution does not clearly stipulate everyone’s rights, some of us may suffer in the end,” observed Kalga’al.
Discussed during the three-day forum were some of the contentious articles contained in the provisional Constitution. These include articles on justice, representation, power sharing, the status of Mogadishu and fiscal federalism. MoCA shared a report detailing its performance from April 2017 to March 2020, which was the foundation of discussions regarding advances made in the review of the Constitution, and will be used to guide the process going forward.
“A Constitution is what brings order and binds regions, districts and states together,” noted Suldaana Ahmed Mohamed, a women’s rights activist. “If there is no Constitution then the rights of many citizens, but especially the vulnerable, are at risk. We are keenly following this review process and we welcome the opportunity for us to make contributions.”
In closing the three-day meeting, Abdikani Ali Adan, MoCA Public Outreach Director, noted that the people of Mogadishu had shown a huge interest in safeguarding their rights by keenly participating in the constitutional review process.
“I especially urge the youth and women to remain engaged in the review process. We hope that this process will deliver a permanent Constitution that helps to bring peace and prosperity to our country,” Mr. Adan said.
The three-day meeting is part of an ongoing nationwide outreach campaign that will enable citizens to contribute to the Constitution-making process. The campaign events will be held in Baidoa, Jowhar, Dhusamareb, Kismayo and Garowe.