Somalia's parliament will hold its first meeting today in the capital, Mogadishu after relocating from neighboring Djibouti and electing new President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Somali parliamentarians left to Djibouti as a result of peace negotiations between the former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS). Under the agreement parliament was expanded to more than 500 accommodating members of the moderate Islamic ARS led by Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. But the hard-line Islamic insurgent group al-Shabab seized the temporary parliament building in Baidoa when parliamentarians left for Djibouti. Somali parliamentarian Ahmed Hashi tells reporter Peter Clottey that Mogadishu will be the permanent place for parliamentary meetings.
"We will be meeting today as we wait for the speaker to return from Nairobi today. So in the coming hours, we will be holding our parliamentary meeting. And as you will remember, that house is over five hundred MP's (Members of Parliament) comprising of both the ARS and the transitional federal parliament. The task ahead of us is very tough and very difficult, but we are going to start afresh, a new era and a new system, in which hopefully, we are expecting Somalia to prevail in peace and stability, beginning right now," Hashi noted.
He said the new government of national unity under President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is responsible for handling the security situation in the country.
"The security situation is really not our task. That is the responsibility of the government as you are very much aware. But it concerns me because one of our tasks or our duties is to investigate any matter of public interest. So since security is part of public interest, we would be looking critically at it. And we know without security, even parliamentary meetings would not be possible. The government is responsible, but we will give them pieces of advice on how to go about it as parliamentarians," he said.
Hashi said Somalia parliamentarians have now relocated permanently from the temporary building in Baidoa to the capital, Mogadishu.
"We had a temporary location in Baidoa, and that was when we were only TFG, but now we are together as an expanded parliament. The initial decision was that when peace returns to Mogadishu, parliament would be relocated to the capital, Mogadishu, and that was the big condition why we were in Baidoa. Now, in our first meeting or second or in the future, hopefully, we will finalize or approve the headquarters of parliament to Mogadishu," Hashi pointed out.