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Somalia Adopts Provisional Constitution by Overwhelming Vote

UNITED NATIONS, Aug 1 2012 (IPS) - Somalia adopted a  Provisional Constitution Wednesday setting a date for the political transition of the country.

The final agreement came after seven days of deliberations in the capital of Mogadishu. The assembly voted with 96 per cent approval. Out of the total of 825 delegates, 621 were present. Only 13 representatives voted against the document, and 11 abstained.

In a statement released here, Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the approval of the draft constitution which will become permanent after a national referendum.  Ban congratulated the National Constituent Assembly for this historic achievement and their commitment to ending the transition. However he pointed out that this is not the end of the process.

UN spokesperson Martin Nesirky said:   “The Secretary-General  encourages all stakeholders to undertake the last steps to end the transition peacefully, united, and with the best interest of the Somali people in mind.”

The Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga said: “Today is a day of celebration. The adoption of the Provisional Constitution is an historic achievement as it completes one of the most important milestones towards ending the current transitional period and ushering in a new political future.”

Mahiga also emphasized the need to look to the next step forward. “The constitution must now be implemented to become a living reality. For that to happen, the final steps to ending the transition  must be taken including selecting a representative Parliament, and electing a Speaker, the President, and appointing an executive government,”

This provisional constitution will replace the Transitional Federal Charter adopted in 2004, following the Transitional National Charter of 2000, which was the first attempt to restore governmental functions after the breakdown in 1990’s.

The UN Political Office for Somalia published a document as a guide to help Somali people to become familiar with the contents of the draft Constitution.  However the adoption of the provisional constitution was tarnished by the suicide attacks carried out  near the National Constituent Assembly Wednesday morning. Ban strongly condemned the incident and extended his condolences to the families of the victims and the Somali people. Mahiga praised Somali delegates who “were not deterred” by these attacks.

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