Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has thanked the Voice of America for its recent poll of Somali opinion about the country's draft constitution.
In a letter received Tuesday by VOA, the president said the poll has allowed Somalis to share their views regarding the document's most controversial articles.
He said the new constitution is a "critical step forward" for Somalia, and the ability of Somalis to speak out in the drafting process is the "heart of a democracy."
VOA's Somali Service polled 3,000 Somalis about key provisions of the draft constitution and the kind of government they would like to have.
The results showed 87 percent of those surveyed want Islamic law to be the foundation of the country's civil and criminal code; 83 percent want a strong central government; and 78 percent are in favor of the proposed constitution.
Sixty-eight percent of those polled thought the constitution should include freedom of the press and media.
Somali politicians are holding talks aimed at adopting the proposed constitution and establishing a new government. A National Constituent Assembly that will vote on the constitution is due to begin meeting on Wednesday.