Somalia adopts Ethiopia’s federal constitution with Sharia Law

By IndepthAfrica
In East Africa
Jun 28th, 2012
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MOGADISHU — Somalia has unveiled a new final draft constitution that was recently approved in Nairobi by Somali leaders in the presence of Special Representative of the Secretary-General (SRSG) for Somalia, Dr. Augustine Mahiga.

The text is somewhat an exact duplicate of Ethiopia’s 1994 draft paper and was in the making for eight years. The similarities are very striking apart from the fact that Somalia has declared Sharia Law as its main source of legislation in the new constitution.

The new draft is clearly the work of Puntland region, Islamists including Ahlu Sunna Wal Jamma and President Sheikh Sharif, the former leader of Union of Islamic Courts.

Under Chapter One, article 1 states that “Somalia is a federal state with democratic structure based on the principles of majority rule and justice for all”.

Chapter two (State and Religion), article one states that Islam is the state religion and article two prohibits any religion to be preached in Somali soil apart from Islam.

Article two also specifies that any legislation not based on Islamic Sharia Law will not be established or approved. Islam was always the state law but never in the history of Somalia has identified Sharia as the key source of legislation.

Article four stresses that this Constitution is the second supreme law of the land after Sharia and is the foundation for all the federations.

Apart from its strict call for Sharia law, the draft is very much a duplicate of Ethiopia’s Federal constitution. Unlike Ethiopia, Somalia has not even defined the States in the Federation and this is most likely to cause a new headache considering Somalia has always been a tribal society with no defined or marked borders.

To complicate the matter the draft does not contain all vital signatories for future federation states including Azania, Jubba Valley Administration, West Puntland State, State of Ras Aseyr, Himan and Heeb and the larger South Central Somalia (Southwest State).

There is also dispute over the draft itself. According to the technical committee drafting the constitution, the transitional government has submitted a draft copy that is different to the one signed in Nairobi (See New rift emerges between Constitution Committee and TFG).

Article 55 in Chapter 5 notes that federation states will maintain all their affairs apart from: A) Foreign relations B) National defense C) Citizenship and immigration and monetary policy.

The constituent assembly can make the new 98-page constitution law if a big enough majority supports it. Otherwise it must go to the technical drafting committee.

The draft recognizes Somali and Arabic as the official language(s) of Somalia under article 5. The paper reiterates that Somalia is part of Africa and the Arab World.

If approved Somalia will officially become the Federal Somali Republic.

The draft text can be viewed below, which is available only in the Somali language.

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