Somalia Parliament Passes Bill Allowing President to Appoint Prime Minister

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud

In a historic move, the Somalia parliament has ratified significant constitutional amendments, granting the president the authority to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. This decision, approved by a substantial majority of parliament, marks a pivotal moment in Somali politics.

The bicameral federal assembly in Mogadishu engaged in intense debates over the proposed amendments, which were put forth by the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission (ICRIC). These amendments have been under review for nearly a decade, aiming to address longstanding disputes within Somali governance.

The most notable change is the establishment of a president-appointed prime minister, replacing the previous requirement for parliamentary confidence votes. This adjustment seeks to provide more flexibility in governance and mitigate power struggles between presidents and prime ministers. The amended constitution introduces a fixed five-year term for government bodies, ensuring stability and continuity in leadership.

The updated constitution now refers to regional state leaders as presidents, emphasizing their role and authority within the federal system. The amendments also promote a multi-party system, encouraging political diversity and participation.

While the amendments have gained momentum, not everyone is in agreement. Some political figures, including former presidents and state leaders, express reservations. Their concerns center around the need for broader consensus and potential implications of the changes.

In February, the ICRIC proposed additional amendments covering various topics, including the age of maturity for girls and the criminalization of female genital mutilation. The approved amendments set the age of maturity at 15 and the age of responsibility at 18. However, rights groups caution that this may exacerbate the risks of child marriage, particularly for girls. Human Rights Watch urges Somalia to uphold constitutional protections for children and meet international human rights commitments.

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As Somalia navigates these constitutional shifts, the balance between centralized authority and regional autonomy remains a critical consideration. The nation’s leaders must ensure that these changes enhance governance, promote inclusivity, and address the challenges faced by the Somali people.

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