The biggest coalition of parties in Somalia has come out strongly to oppose proposals to change the constitution and extend the government’s term from the current four years to five years.
The Justice and Development of Democracy and Self Respectfulness Party — an umbrella body of seven political parties that support President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud — has in a statement said that they reject attempts to change the constitution.
The coalition, known in the Somalia language as Cadalada, Horumarinta, Dimuqradiyada Iyo Isqadarinta (Cahdi), says that they are also concerned about President Mohamud’s dalliance with elements of former militants such as Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour, as a means of fighting Al-Shabaab.
“The Cahdi party opposes the constitutional crisis led by President Hassan Sheikh, which violates the provisions of the country's constitution, namely Article 60 and Article 91, which specify and explain the term of office of the president of the governing councils, which is four years,” said the statement issued on Tuesday.
President Mohamud has not spoken on the issue, but the First Deputy Speaker of the Lower House of Parliament Sadia Yasin Samatar has appointed a ten-member committee to draft a report on a motion supporting constitutional amendments and supplements that was signed by 100 lawmakers.
The motion seeks to amend Article 60 and Article 91 to allow for an increase in the parliamentary and presidential term limits from 4 to 5 years. Article 91 restricts the term of the president to four years while Article 60 does the same with the life of parliament.
Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, a member of parliament and the president's special envoy on drought matters, said that parliament is expected to submit legal mechanisms on how to get the nation out of indirect elections.
The Himilo Qaran party of former president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed — an affiliate of CahdI — has opposed the proposed extension of government agencies, including the presidency and parliament, and appealed to the federal government to uphold the law and refrain from any extension.
Embraced President Mohamud
Key parties affiliated with Cahdi, which are united in promoting the dignity of the Somali people, were opposed to former president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” but embraced President Mohamud before the May 2022 presidential elections.
“The Cahdi party will never accept any kind of extension period. [We are] calling [on] international partners to observe and impose measures on those who are undermining constitutional democratic direction,” the statement said.
The coalition is concerned that apart from Mr Robbow, President Mahmud has forged an alliance with what they call “nihilist and narcissist” elements such as the Union for Peace and Development Party (UPD) to help him fight Al-Shabaab. UPD comprises the Damuljadeed sect and Daljir Party — both associated with the Muslim Brotherhood predominantly found in Egypt and Turkey.
“The Cahdi party reminds the president that he was elected by the Somali parliament collectively and he is required to appoint an executive branch based on consultation and consent,” said the statement.
The cabinet has appointed a five-member committee chaired by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre to review the federal constitution. Mr Barre maintained that the committee was approved by the Ministry of Justice and Constitutional Affairs and later the cabinet to pave way for the completion of the federal constitution.
But the position taken by Cahdi may present challenges to the proposed amendments.
“The Cahdi party does not accept those who promote ideas based on extremism, dictatorship and breaking the constitution. The Cahdi party has a clear stance against anyone who tries to break the constitution, encourage extremism, or participate in organised groups that persecute and divide the Somali nation,” the coalition maintained.