Somalia adopts new constitution shortly after failed suicide attack

Nickalas Tabbert

Somalia leaders adopted a new constitution Wednesday after a failed suicide attack.

The 825 Somali leaders who debated the constitution for a week approved the document with 621 for, 13 against and 11 abstentions, The Associated Press reported.

The constitution eight years in the making signifies that Islamic law is the basis for Somalia’s legal foundation, the article said.

The delegates voted about two hours after two suicide bombers tried to attack the Mogadishu meeting. A police officer said security forces shot the two bombers at the gate to the meeting area. The two bombers were killed and one Somali soldier was wounded, said Abdi Yassin, a police officer.

The constitution protects the right to an abortion to save the life of the mother and bans the circumcision of girls, a common practice in Somalia that opponents call female genital mutilation.

“Today, Somalia has put its feet onto a democratic and peaceful path,” said Abshir Abdi, an assembly attendant. “The new constitution will heal Somalia from war trauma and put it into a more peaceful life.”

The U.N. hopes to transition the country to a more representative form of government, but nationwide or even regional elections appear to be years away, the AP said.

Augustine Mahiga, the top U.N. representative to Somalia, said that a new, more representative era for Somalia is about to start after the vote by Somali leaders, or elders.

“Through their good work, the elders have proven their reputation as the custodians of the Somali nationhood and demonstrated their respect for a fair and legitimate process,” he said.