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Somalia parliament passes bill allowing President appoint PM

Somalia's President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud speaks during an interview on his visit to the United Nations, Tuesday, Dec. 12, 2023, at U.N. headquarters   -  
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Bebeto Matthews/Copyright 2023 The AP. All rights reserved.

Somalia

Somalia made significant changes to its constitution on Saturday, granting the president the authority to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. This decision, approved by a substantial majority of parliament, follows intense debates within the federal assembly in Mogadishu.

The amendments, proposed by the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission (ICRIC), underwent thorough scrutiny. Hussein Idow, the chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee, announced that three draft provisions concerning religion would undergo further review to ensure alignment with Somali principles and values.

These amendments, under review for almost a decade, gained momentum in late 2023. They aim to address longstanding disputes in Somali politics, particularly power struggles between presidents and prime ministers, often fueled by constitutional ambiguities.

One major change establishes a president-appointed prime minister, replacing the previous requirement for parliamentary confidence votes. This adjustment seeks to provide more flexibility in governance, addressing tensions arising from power and resource distribution among clans and regions.

The amended constitution also introduces a five-year term for government bodies, refers to regional state leaders as presidents, and promotes a multi-party system.

However, some political figures, including former presidents and state leaders, oppose these changes, citing concerns about insufficient consensus.

In February, the ICRIC proposed amendments covering various topics, including the age of maturity for girls and the criminalization of female genital mutilation. While the approved amendments set the age of maturity at 15 and the age of responsibility at 18, 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, emphasizing the importance of meeting international human rights commitments.