Members of Somalia's parliament are expected to meet Friday in Djibouti ahead of electing a new president and an expanded parliament. Under the Somali constitution, a new president is to be elected to replace the speaker of parliament who has been acting as president. This comes after former President Abdullah Yusuf Ahmed was reportedly forced to resign late December under international pressure after being accused of being a stumbling block to the ongoing Djibouti Agreement which calls for expanding parliament to include the opposition Alliance for the Re-liberalization of Somalia (ARS). Abdalla Haji Ali is a Somali member of parliament. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Somalia's peace and stability would be the focus of Friday's meeting.
"We have to go to Djibouti to actually have a meeting of all parliamentarians ahead of the expansion of the parliament. We have to make amendments to the constitution to actually expand parliament. Now the constitution of the national charter has only 275 members of parliament (MP's) and we have to actually add another 275 MP's from the opposition to make it 550. But in order to do that we have to legally open it for the opposition to join us with the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) for the new parliament which would actually consist of 550 members," Ali noted.
He said it was important to have the opposition party join the government to ensure unity in Somalia.
"We think as MP's it is really the right thing to do in order to complete the reconciliation and peace process. And we believe that if the opposition joins the Transitional Federal institution it would actually contribute to the peace and stability of the country. So, anything that can actually bring peace and stability to this nation, which has been suffering for a long time, at least for 18 years, and which has experienced strife and civil wars for 18 years. So, I think if we can actually get peace and stability for that then we are ready to do that," he said.
Ali said the meeting in Djibouti would focus on electing a new president as well as expand the Somali parliament to include the opposition.
"That is the second step (electing a new president). When we open it (parliament) and we include the opposition members of parliament then we are going to sit together and select a joint president for the nation, and we are going to finish it in Djibouti," Ali pointed out.
He said although there is no guarantees that electing a new president and reconstituting parliament would bring peace, there is a need to give it a try.
"I hope, and the emphasis is on hope, it would actually help a lot. But as you know there is no 100 percent certainty that it will actually work for the way we want to or for the way we expect or for the way we hope, we don't know that. But as a matter of fact it is a major step forward for the opposition and the transitional government to sit together work together in a single institution and work together. I think it would be very positive and we hope that it would bring this country and these people a lasting peace and stability that can actually benefit everybody," he said.