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A historic moment: Puntland's constitution now ratified

April 20, 2012
Est. Reading: 2 minutes
Photo Credit: PDRC

The Puntland Constitution, ratified Wednesday with a 98% ‘yes’ vote has taken time in coming.

The constitution-making process, a revision to the quickly drafted, non-ratified provisional constitution of 1998, had started in earnest back in 2007. But the efforts of all Puntlanders were rewarded this week. Delegates representing the communities across the Puntland region had gathered to listen and discuss each and every one of the 141 articles of the newly drafted constitution.

On the 18 April 2012, the final day of the convention, the 478 delegates affirmed that this draft would be the constitution for Puntland and its future.

“We are here to reaffirm our unity and our shared commitment towards establishing a role model state ... .” announced President Farole of Puntland at the opening of the convention.

This four day conference, held in Garowe, the capital of Puntland, was also attended by the Deputy Prime Minister of the Transitional Federal Government of Somalia, Hon. Abdilwahab Khalif, other officials and traditional leaders as well as members of the international community, including Ambassadors from Italy and Slovakia, three members of the European Union Somali Delegation, and representatives of the UN’s Political Office for Somalia and UNDP.

Annemarie van der Heijden, who led the EU delegation attending the event confirmed the significance of this constitution-making process in Puntland with the broader Somalia process by stating: “The adoption of the revised Puntland Constitution is a timely achievement in the development of Somalia’s future federal structure.”

The traditional elder, Islan Essa, pointed out: "From today neither the government nor the opposition can hide from the people."

Interpeace, and local partner, Puntland Development Research Centre (PDRC) have been involved in the constitution-making process in Puntland since 2007. Interpeace is also currently the lead international partner to the Transitional Puntland Electoral Commssion (TPEC), which was responsible for conducting the Constitutional Convention.

Jerry McCann, Interpeace Deputy Director-General for Operation Interpeace said: “The newly ratified Puntland Constitution, and the process that was used to achieve this demonstrates that inclusiveness, and taking the time to get it right, are key. This new constitution will provide a solid foundation from which Puntland can continue to develop and grow.”

Johan Svensson, Interpeace Regional Director for Eastern and Central Africa, who attended the opening day of the event commented on its importance: “The Constitution is the basis of government.” Svensson continued: “This Constitution allows the Puntland people to consolidate peace and stability in a post-conflict situation. The next steps include extensive civic education through media, workshops and focus groups as well as the formation of political parties."

The Constitution now goes to the Puntland Supreme Court where it will be approved as the Puntland State Constitution.