(VOA)-In a key step toward restoring political stability to war-torn Somalia, a special congress has convened there to begin the process of approving a new national constitution. Over the next week, an 825-member National Constituent Assembly that was chosen by the nation’s traditional elders will debate and vote on a provisional legal framework for a new federal government after the mandate for the interim administration expires next month. The document will then be put to the Somali people in a national referendum.
|Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed, centre, Somali PM, Abdiwali Mohamed Ali, right, and Somali Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan|
Somalia has lacked a stable central government since the ouster of a revolutionary council led by former president Mohamed Siad-Barre in 1991. In 2004 an internationally-recognized transitional federal government was established, with a mandate to restore democratic rule, but it has struggled with clan rivalries, environmental crises such as drought and an insurgency that has displaced tens of thousands of citizens. Because of these and other challenges, a 2011 deadline for forming a new government was extended.
The United States is committed to restoring peace and stability to Somalia and welcomes the National Constituent Assembly’s convening. It is a milestone in the nation’s democratic transition. The next major step is for Somalia’s traditional elders to select a new parliament that will in turn elect a Speaker and President. We urge that these remaining tasks be completed quickly and transparently so the transition ends on schedule August 20, and Somalia is able to usher in a new era of governance that is more responsive, representative and accountable.