President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud has embarked on a significant endeavor to foster consensus and gather support for institutional reform in Somalia. This initiative commenced on Thursday as the president convened former presidents, former prime ministers, and prominent political figures. The agenda for these meetings, set to continue on Friday, includes discussions on combating the extremist group al-Shabaab and addressing the recent proposal for a comprehensive overhaul of the country’s institutions, which has encountered substantial criticism.
President Hassan Cheikh Mohamoud recognizes the apprehensions of Somalia’s international partners, who perceive political disputes as hindrances to the progress achieved in countering jihadist activities. Consequently, he has brought together esteemed figures such as Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a predecessor at Villa Somalia, and several former prime ministers. Notably, former President Farmajo could not attend due to official “personal reasons.”
Except for Farmajo, all participants share the distinction of opposing the institutional reform project presented by the National Advisory Council in May. This project, endorsed by the United Nations, seeks to transcend the current clan-based electoral framework and introduce universal suffrage by 2024, alongside establishing a presidential system for the country.
Villa Somalia has expressed that the Head of State aims to actively seek and consider the ideas put forth by the participants. Presently, the reform project faces hurdles due to their dissent and the disassociation of the President of the State of Puntland from the federal government’s position.
Representatives from the African Union Mission in Somalia, as well as influential diplomatic bodies, believe that any meaningful reform can only be viable and sustainable if it is founded upon consensus. They emphasize the importance of engaging in dialogue and fostering a shared understanding among all stakeholders.