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Somalia Grants President Power to Appoint Prime Minister in Constitutional Overhaul

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Somalia underwent significant constitutional reforms on Saturday, empowering the president with the authority to appoint and dismiss the prime minister. The decision, backed by a substantial majority in parliament, concludes heated debates within the federal assembly in Mogadishu.

Proposed by the Independent Constitutional Review and Implementation Commission (ICRIC), the amendments underwent rigorous scrutiny. Hussein Idow, Chairperson of the Constitutional Review Committee, disclosed that three draft provisions pertaining to religion would undergo further assessment to ensure alignment with Somali principles and values.

Under review for nearly a decade, these amendments gained traction in late 2023, aiming to resolve longstanding disputes in Somali politics, particularly power struggles between presidents and prime ministers, often exacerbated by constitutional ambiguities.

A notable change introduces a president-appointed prime minister, replacing the previous requirement for parliamentary confidence votes. This alteration seeks to offer greater flexibility in governance, addressing tensions stemming from power and resource distribution among clans and regions.

Furthermore, the revised constitution establishes a five-year term for government bodies, designates regional state leaders as presidents, and advocates for a multi-party system.

However, dissenting voices, including former presidents and state leaders, oppose these changes, expressing concerns about insufficient consensus.

In February, the ICRIC proposed amendments covering various issues, 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 heighten the risk of child marriage, particularly for girls.

Human Rights Watch urges Somalia to uphold constitutional protections for children, stressing the significance of fulfilling international human rights commitments