News

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.

This forum has been closed.
Comment Sorting
Comments
     
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.

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’i
X
July 29, 2015 9:34 PM
Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Booming London Property a ‘Haven for Dirty Money’

Billions of dollars of so-called ‘dirty money’ from the proceeds of crime - especially from Russia - are being laundered through the London property market, according to anti-corruption activists. As Henry Ridgwell reports from the British capital, the government has pledged to crack down on the practice.
Video

Video Hometown of Boy Scouts of America Founder Reacts to Gay Leader Decision

Ottawa, Illinois, is the hometown of W.D. Boyce, who founded the Boy Scouts of America in 1910. In Ottawa, where Scouting remains an important part of the legacy of the community, the end of the organization's ban on openly gay adult leaders was seen as inevitable. VOA's Kane Farabaugh reports.
Video

Video 'Metal Muscles' Flex a New Bionic Hand

Artificial limbs, including the most complex of them – the human hand – are getting more life-like and useful due to constant advances in tiny hydraulic, pneumatic and electric motors called actuators. But now, as VOA’s George Putic reports, scientists in Germany say the future of the prosthetic hand may lie not in motors but in wires that can ‘remember’ their shape.
Video

Video Russia Accused of Abusing Interpol to Pursue Opponents

A British pro-democracy group has accused Russia of abusing the global law enforcement agency Interpol by requesting the arrest and extradition of political opponents. A new report by the group notes such requests can mean the accused are unable to travel and are often unable to open bank accounts. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video 'Positive Atmosphere' Points Toward TPP Trade Deal in Hawaii

Talks on a major new trade agreement among 12 Pacific Rim nations are said to be nearing completion in Hawaii. Some trade experts say the "positive atmosphere" at the discussions could mean a deal is within reach, but there is still hard bargaining to be done over many issues and products, including U.S. drugs and Japanese rice. VOA's Jim Randle reports.
Video

Video Genome Initiative Urgently Moves to Freeze DNA Before Species Go Extinct

Earth is in the midst of its sixth mass extinction. The last such event was caused by an asteroid 66 million years ago. It killed off the dinosaurs and practically everything else. So scientists are in a race against time to classify the estimated 11 million species alive today. So far only 2 million are described by science, and researchers are worried many will disappear before they even have a name. VOA’s Rosanne Skirble reports.
Video

Video Scientists: One-Dose Malaria Cure is Possible

Scientists have long been trying to develop an effective protection and cure for malaria - one of the deadliest diseases that affects people in tropical areas, especially children. As the World Health Organization announces plans to begin clinical trials of a promising new vaccine, scientists in South Africa report that they too are at an important threshold. George Putic reports, they are testing a compound that could be a single-dose cure for malaria.
Video

Video 'New York' Magazine Features 35 Cosby Accusers

The latest issue of 'New York' magazine features 35 women who say they were drugged and raped by film and television celebrity Bill Cosby. The women are aged from 44 to 80 and come from different walks of life and races. The magazine interviewed each of them separately, but Zlatica Hoke reports their stories are similar.
Video

Video US Calls Fight Against Human Trafficking a Must Win

The United States is promising not to give up its fight against what Secretary of State John Kerry calls the “scourge” of modern slavery. Officials released the country’s annual human trafficking report Monday – a report that’s being met with some criticism. VOA’s National Security correspondent Jeff Seldin has more from the State Department.
Video

Video Washington DC Underground Streetcar Station to Become Arts Venue

Abandoned more than 50 years ago, the underground streetcar station in Washington D.C.’s historic DuPont Circle district is about to be reborn. The plan calls for turning the spacious underground platforms - once meant to be a transportation hub, - into a unique space for art exhibitions, presentations, concerts and even a film set. Roman Mamonov has more from beneath the streets of the U.S. capital. Joy Wagner narrates his report.
Video

Video Europe’s Twin Crises Collide in Greece as Migrant Numbers Soar

Greece has replaced Italy as the main gateway for migrants into Europe, with more than 100,000 arrivals in the first six months of 2015. Many want to move further into Europe and escape Greece’s economic crisis, but they face widespread dangers on the journey overland through the Balkans. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Stink Intensifies as Lebanon’s Trash Crisis Continues

After the closure of a major rubbish dump a week ago, the streets of Beirut are filling up with trash. Having failed to draw up a plan B, politicians are struggling to deal with the problem. John Owens has more for VOA from Beirut.
Video

Video Paris Rolls Out Blueprint to Fight Climate Change

A U.N. climate conference in December aims to produce an ambitious agreement to fight heat-trapping greenhouse gases. But many local governments are not waiting, and have drafted their own climate action plans. That’s the case with Paris — which is getting special attention, since it’s hosting the climate summit. Lisa Bryant takes a look for VOA at the transformation of the French capital into an eco-city.
Video

Video Racially Diverse Spider-Man Takes Center Stage

Whether it’s in a comic book or on the big screen, fans have always known the man behind the Spider-Man mask as Peter Parker. But that is changing, at least in the comic book world. Marvel Comics announced that a character called Miles Morales will replace Peter Parker as Spider-Man in a new comic book series. He is half Latino, half African American, and he is quite popular among comic book fans. Correspondent Elizabeth Lee reports from Los Angeles.
Video

Video Historic Symbol Is Theme of Vibrant New Show

A new exhibit in Washington is paying tribute to the American flag with a wide and eclectic selection of artwork that uses the historic symbol as its central theme. VOA’s Julie Taboh was at the DC Chamber of Commerce for the show’s opening.

VOA Blogs