Ladies and Gentlemen
It is a true honour to open the first National Consultation Forum for the 2016 Electoral Process.
Today, we are giving Somalia the best gift we could give our nation: the gift of democracy.
It is a gift that recognises each citizen’s right to have a say in the kind of country in which they want to live. What we are making real here today – whether you are a man or a woman, whether you are from such and such tribe or clans, whether you live in Kismaayo, Mogadishu or Gaalkacyo etc, whatever your occupation, whatever your status, whatever your – what we are making real is the right of Somalis to choose our future.
What we are starting today is the process of creating systems that will both enable and protect that right.
I cannot stress strongly enough how important today is.
Around the world, we are seeing various expressions of people’s wish to self-determination being enacted. Some of these processes are destroying those things that they should be protecting.
Yet, here – in Somalia- we stand here today, gathered in peace. We have one purpose in mind: To ensure that, as a country, we are united in our desire to see that the power to govern Somalia is transferred legitimately, transparently and consistency.
We gather today to start a process through which Somalis will talk, and be listened to. Today we start a process of informed and critical reflection as a nation. Over the next three months, we must dialogue and debate on the different electoral process options that will ensure our best chance of a free and fair electoral process.
We have not lost sight of our ultimate goal: that of one person, one vote. Direct elections are of course the most representative mechanism of democracy, and we will strive to make that achieveable in 2020.
But don’t let people persuade you that we have somehow sold out for 2016.
Three years ago, when my government was appointed, we created a vision for 2016. We identified three critical things that would proclaim Somalia as a fully-fledged state: a revised national constitution reflective of the role of the state and rights of all Somalis, able to be implemented and consistently applied. We committed to complete the process of federalism: of creating a unified and united nation mindful of our history but not held hostage to it.
And we committed to a peaceful transition of political power in 2016.
Three years later we are turning this vision into reality.
The process of reviewing and revising the constitution has started. Over the next year, I look forward to an organised national discussion, led by the Independent Constitution Review and Implementation Commission on how the constitution could more accurately reflect the current and anticipated functions of the state in relation to its citizens.
Federalism is crucial to our national stability and our national identity. During the past three years we have supported the formation of 3 interim regional administrations according to our constitution.
The effort is ongoing, with current discussions ongoing to realise the creation of the last interim regional administration for the Hiran and Middle Shabelle regions. This is the last block – completing the federalised map of Somalia.
And now – today – the process to make the third strand of statehood begins.
The process of creating a state must be citizen-led. It cannot be exclusive in origin, implementation or outcomes. It must be accessible, representative and inclusive. The voice of people who may have struggled to be heard in the past must be strengthened.
No one else can create a state but her people. Neither I, nor the Prime Minister, nor the international community can wish a state into being.
As Somalis this process falls on your shoulders. You must be involved, be heard, think, reflect and communicate.
What we discuss as a nation over the next three months must be in the interest of delivering all of us to a common destination: enhanced legitimacy through peaceful, democratic means.
We are committed to a broad and inclusive process that makes certain whatever outcome is decided is representative of Somali society today, and promotes the participation of women and minority groups. It must be transparent: people must have confidence in the legitimacy of the outcome, and the outcome must be able to be implemented nationwide with the resources we have available.
Importantly, the outcome must promote national unity.
Let me remind you that with rights come responsibilities. In regard to the 2016 electoral process, these responsibilities cannot be misunderstood.
Throughout this process, there will be room for discussion, but not dis-engagement. There will be room for perspectives, but not for politicking. There will be room for negotiation, but not for negativity.
The Somali people deserve success, not spoilers.
I commit as President that this process will be held to the highest possible standards of participation.
There is no question too small, no comment too left-field, no discussion too banal in this process.
My fellow Somalis,
For 47 years, we have waited for this time to come. Through war, through conflict, through pain and struggle, we have endured for this moment.
Do not waste it. It is time for Somalia to speak.