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Somalia PM Plans Constitutional Government by August

Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (file)
Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (file)

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government is making preparations to hand over power to an elected government in August.   The surprising development is being engineered by a Somali-American technocrat intent on ending his native country's reputation as a failed state.

Somalia's Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali is a man with a mission.

The Harvard-educated Ali could easily go back to his wife and four children and his career as an academic in the United States.  A month ago, he narrowly escaped an assassination attempt that killed two of Somalia's top sports officials.

Instead he has chosen to take on what some might call “mission impossible,” returning stability to Somalia after more than 20 years of lawlessness and conflict.

Just a few months ago, southern Somalia was in the grip of drought and famine. Much of the countryside was controlled by al-Shabab, an Islamic extremist group that refused to allow Western aid agencies to provide life-saving food aid.  As a result, thousands of Somalis died.

Today, al-Shabab's grip is broken, due partly to public anger at their callousness, and partly to a African Union-led military force that hit them when they were at their weakest.

A few weeks ago, al-Shabab fighters were forced to pull out of their last few positions in Mogadishu. Prime Minister Ali sees the political vacuum created by al-Shabab's departure as an opportunity for his U.N.-backed government, which until recently was seen as weak, corrupt and incompetent.

"We gained a lot of territory from Shabab.  They're on the run, and Somalis came to understand they have no tolerance," he said.  "They don't have a Somali agenda.  Their agenda is an obnoxious agenda.  Shabab lost the hearts and minds of the Somali people.  They lost the battle and also lost the war."

Ali and his crew of Western-educated technocrats are racing against the clock to create a constitutional government for Somalia by August, when his administration's mandate expires.  Two weeks ago they finished drafting a new constitution.

In technocratic form, Ali expresses confidence that he can succeed where others have failed by strict adherence to a timetable.

"We have a 'road map.'  You know why previous governments failed was because they never had a framework that guides them, that takes them from where they were and to where they want to be," he said. "Now we have a framework. The road map has benchmarks, timelines and deadlines of doing specific jobs.  That's why we've succeeded."

The next steps include forming a convention of elders to select a constitutional assembly that will ratify the constitution. The assembly will then choose members of a slimmed-down parliament that will elect a speaker and a president by July.

The new government would then be ready to take power by August, when Prime Minister Ali's mandate expires. It's a tall order, but he says the progress made in the past few months suggests it can be done.

"Nobody would have thought seven months ago that the whole city of Mogadishu would be secured and safe," he said. "We are a proud country with rich history. We'll get out of this mess and hopefully in the near future you will have a Somalia at peace with itself and its neighbors."

Ali says al-Shabab may continue for some time to be able to stage sporadic terrorist attacks like the one this week that killed two members of parliament.  But he envisions a state that within five years will become a solid member of the community of nations, something that has evaded Somalia for more than two decades.

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by: Somali Boy
May 05, 2012 7:40 AM
@ Somali Christian, there is no contradiction in Somali constitution I think you confuse Articles 2 and 22. Article 2 says Islam is the religion of Somali republic and article 22(1) says a person is free to practice his or her religion so what is the other religion that you are going to practice in Somalia? If there is only one religion in the country

by: cimraan
May 05, 2012 6:06 AM
mike is right. A glowing report by reporter who have no background or knowledge about the realities in Somalia. All he saw is an american educated prime minister and in his mind who can fix all . If all he is saying is true then why he can't go to Kismayo or Hargeisa. How can he claim there will be a nationally elected government in july when the country is not united in this. One thing I know you can't shove a constitution down the throat of people if they don't want it.

by: Optimist
May 03, 2012 8:26 PM
It's all our hope Somalis find peace. But the currenct arrangement will not bring a lasting peace, there needs to be a comprehensive peace negotiation amongst all Somalis, only an inclusive political solution can bring a lasting peace.

by: Mallick
May 03, 2012 11:14 AM
Hopepully this Prime Minister will guide Somalia out of this mess. It's way past time Somalia was at peace. Also @ Mike, Somalia doesnt need the UK Or the US's money, your countries' need Somalia to be stable just as much as us. The last conference was due to your greedy countries attempting to take our resources just as you do with every third world country.

@ Mike, before you attack other nations and make ill-thought premptive presumptions, look at your recession ridden country/

by: Somali Christian
May 02, 2012 3:13 PM
Mr Prime Minister, why the contradictory statement in the proposed Constitution for Somalia? On one hand the document pretends to uphold, "Freedom of Religion" while on the other hand it states that Islam is Somalia's State religion and that a Muslim cannot become a Christian. What if someone was never a Muslim? When will you and your holier than thou politicians learn that "State Religion" is recipe for further chaos in Somalia? The rest of Africa has long ago learned from this .

by: Mike
May 02, 2012 2:20 PM
I can hardly wait to see their "Constitution." I bet it will read just like ours. (NOT!) There is nothing in this story to suggest anything but more faillure, and no useful analysis. It would take a strong unified culture to resist and destroy the gangs, and there is no evidence to suggest its existence or a plan to create one. But I bet the plan does call for more EU and US money. I suggest $0 as a contribution.

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