Amidst Resistance, Momentum Builds for Review of Somalia’s Constitution

Somalia’s leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has secured the support of key federal state leaders to revise the initial four sections of the constitution, a promise he made when he assumed office two years ago. Yet, he faces opposition from those who question the process.
The latest developments were unveiled last week during the 9th meeting of the National Consultative Council (NCC) chaired by Mohamud. The NCC, which includes the President, Prime Minister Hamza Barre, Deputy Prime Minister Salah Ahmed Jama, and leaders from four Federal Member States (FMS) plus the Mayor of Mogadishu, agreed on a way forward.
Northeastern State did not participate in the meeting. However, Mohamud can breathe a sigh of relief for now as the majority of states supported him, despite initial doubts about their attendance.
Another critic, former president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, cautioned that the outcome of the NCC meeting could heighten political tensions and harm the country’s unity and state-building efforts.
Northeastern State of SomaliaPresident Said Abdullahi Deni felt excluded, stating that decisions made by a select few do not represent the views of the community, calling it a waste of time.
The NCC plans to move forward with its intention to revise four chapters of the constitution as identified and approved by the federal parliament. Nonetheless, disagreements persist over security and the organizational structures.
Former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed voiced opposition via social media, criticizing the disappointing results of the NCC. Many other politicians like former prime minister Hassan Ali Khayre and his counterparts, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke and Abdiweli Ali Gas, previously criticized the lack of broad consultations on constitutional matters.
A contentious issue is synchronizing all elections at federal and state levels, which some perceive as favoring outgoing state presidents and extending their terms.
There have been ongoing discussions to limit the multiparty system and ensure the direct election of the president by voters. The president, once elected, will have the power to appoint and dismiss ministers independently.
Dr. Afyare Abdi Elmi, a researcher and professor in Mogadishu, expressed surprise at the revisions to the first four chapters of the constitution, suggesting that if the rest follow suit, it will essentially be a new constitution.
The NCC had proposed holding elections in June 2024, but due to security concerns, this seems unfeasible. Delaying the elections to align terms could be interpreted as a subtle extension for those whose tenure has ended.
Hassan Ahmed Aidarus, a political analyst in Mogadishu, understands the skepticism from former leaders, noting that their experience informs their stance. As the Somali proverb goes, “You cannot hide behind a tree from a man who himself hides behind a tree,” alluding to a battle of wits.

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