Hassan Sheikh: Why I support constitutional changes


MOGADISHU, Somalia - The controversy on the legitimacy of constitutional changes in Somalia could escalate the political conflict in the Horn of Africa nation, following President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's decision to sign the new legislation which was approved by parliament.

Already, several lobby groups and the state of Puntland have opposed the changes, which among others, reduce the powers of the Prime Minister besides introducing the universal suffrage model of elections in Somalia, which has been using the traditional model.

But while signing the controversial legislation, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud defended his decision, arguing that the changes have laid the ground for the democratisation of the country, bringing about equality and strengthening government institutions.

Four chapters were approved by the House after the proposals were unanimously endorsed by the council of ministers under the stewardship of Prime Minister Hamsa Abdi Barre. The changes triggered fierce opposition from several stakeholders.

Speakers of parliament (Lower House and Upper House) and members of the Parliamentary Review Committee on the Constitution attended the event at Villa Somalia. Hassan Sheikh maintained that the process of reforming the country's institutions was 'irreversible'.

The committee, which was established after the National Consultative Council met, reported that 7,470 Somali citizens had expressed their views and recommendations on the new amendments, with over 200,000 also closely following the reviews.

Puntland wants the process to be abandoned while citing a lack of inclusiveness during preliminary submissions. The region did not send representatives to the National Consultative Council meeting where the proposals were reached.

Hassan Sheikh is also facing opposition from his predecessors led by Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed alias Farmajo, who poked holes into the changes. The constitutional amendments have been subject to debate for over a decade.


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