Somalia’s bicameral Parliament enacts amendment of provisional Constitution

Somalia’s bicameral federal Parliament has today adopted the modification of the first four chapters of the country’s interim Constitution after weeks of contentious debates.

 The Speaker of the Lower House, Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nor Madobe, announced that 212 members of the Lower House and 42 members of the Upper House voted in favour of amending the Constitution.

No lawmakers abstained or rejected the amendment. 

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has been advocating for constitutional amendments, and proposing changes to the government structure. Specifically, the executive aims to shift from a parliamentary model to a presidential system. 

Previously, the Constitution stated that the President would appoint the Prime Minister, who would then require a vote of confidence from Parliament. Simultaneously, Parliament could remove the Prime Minister through a vote of no confidence. 

Additionally, President Mohamud seeks to introduce universal suffrage, replacing the clan-based electoral system that has been in use for nearly two decades during elections.

The endorsed chapters include:

Extending the term of federal leadership to five years.

Electing the president through direct elections in the next contest.

Recognizing three national political parties.

Reducing the Prime Minister’s powers.

However, voting on four provisions under articles 13, 16, 28, and 29 has been postponed. These provisions cover topics such as the right to life, age of maturity, and religion.

Somalia’s Puntland State has expressed reservations about amending the current constitution. Puntland did not participate in drafting the proposals approved by the National Consultative Council (NCC). 

In a statement, Puntland asserts that Somalia’s parliament lacks the authority to “create a new constitution.” They argue that only limited articles need completion and caution against implementing any changes without agreement.

Former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed (also known as Farmajo) have criticized the amendments, highlighting the lack of public participation. The opposition is expected to respond to this historic voting1.

In summary, the constitutional amendments in Somalia have sparked controversy and differing opinions, with potential implications for the country’s political landscape.

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