A new Somalia: the National Constituent Assembly builds momentum to a new political dispensation
The approval of the provisional constitution in Somalia on August 1 was an important first step in ushering in a new political era for the war-torn nation.
The provisional constitution, approved by a large majority of the 825 member National Constitutional Assembly (NCA), paves the way for the end of eight years of transition, which is scheduled for 20 August, 2012. Before this date a parliament must first be selected, which will then elect a President, who in turn will appoint the Prime Minister.
With the provisional constitution as a foundation, Somalia will be able to introduce governance that is more responsive, representative and accountable to its people. Fundamental issues such as human rights and women’s participation in the political arena are included in the provisional constitution.
The NCA delegates who voted on the provisional constitution were selected by a representative group of Elders and comprised of Somali clan elders, religious leaders, women and the diaspora. The delegates convened at the Police Academy in Mogadishu for nine days to deliberate, vote and ultimately adopt the new provisional constitution.
The Joint Constitution Unit, formed by the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP) and the United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), worked with the transitional federal institutions throughout the constitutional process to provide technical support on drafting the constitution and ensuring the Somali public was informed – and able to share their opinions – on the process.
UNDP also provided support to the Ministry of Interior on the security planning for the event and support to the Ministry of Constitution and the Technical Facilitation Committee on the convening of the Assembly. The African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) also helped to provide security at the venue.
The provisional constitution will be the basis for further constitutional refinements, and will ultimately be adopted through a referendum. It will also provide a legal framework that will support the new federal parliament, president and government to continue the much needed political and social stabilization in Somalia.