Somalia swears in 283 members of parliament

New parliamentarians are sworn in during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia's Upper House and the House of the People in Mogadishu on 27 December 2016. UN Photo.

27 Dec 2016

Somalia swears in 283 members of parliament

The tenth Parliament of Somalia was inaugurated in a ceremony today that saw 283 members of parliament (MPs) take their oaths of office.

Forty-one of the MPs will become senators in the Upper House while 242 will be members of the House of the People. The MPs were sworn in at the General Kahiye Police Academy during a function officiated by the outgoing Speaker of the Federal Parliament of Somalia, Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari.

The ceremony was attended by senior government officials such as the outgoing Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who was elected to the Upper House as a senator, and the outgoing Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte, who won a seat in the House of the People.

Invited guests included members of the diplomatic corps, senior officials of the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) led by the Deputy Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (DSRCC) for Somalia, Lydia Wanyoto, and the Chairman of the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT), Omar Mohamed Abdulle.

The parliamentarians placed their right hands on the Holy Quran in groups of 30 as they took an oath of allegiance. Interim speakers were appointed for both houses of the federal parliament.

The outgoing parliamentary speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari called today’s ceremony a milestone in the history of Somalia.

“We are witnessing a new set of parliamentarians taking over from others. I want to take this opportunity to salute parliamentarians who have been re-elected. This is a huge responsibility bestowed on you by your constituents, and it is a vote of confidence,” Mr Jawari said.

He urged the assembled MPs to discharge their duties in a respectable manner and noted that the future and success of the country depended on them.

FIEIT Chairman Omar Mohamed Abdulle hailed the inauguration as a testimony to Somalia’s ability to hold elections, and he thanked all key stakeholders for the role they had played during the electoral process.

“I also want to thank the Somali army, AMISOM and the international partners who offered both technical and financial support, without which these elections would not have taken place,” Mr Abdulle said, adding that a total of 293 MPs had been elected thus far to seats in the two houses of parliament.

He highlighted the increase in the number of women who will sit in the tenth parliament and credited in part the efforts of the FIEIT and the rules established by the National Leadership Forum for this achievement.

Many of the MPs sounded an enthusiastic note as they looked ahead to their four-year terms as lawmakers. “I am happy to represent the people and to be sworn in to serve them and the country,” said Naima Mohamed Ga’al, an MP elected from Galmudug. “I hope we will witness change in the country.”

MP Ahmed Mayow Abdulle of South West state urged his fellow lawmakers to give priority to the interests of the Somali people.

“I thank my constituents for electing me and all those who made this possible. I hope that as MPs, we will serve our people diligently and in unity,” Mr Abdulle stated.

Mohamud Hayir Ibrahim was re-elected to parliament from Puntland state and noted the differences between this year’s electoral process and the one that elected Somalia’s ninth parliament four years ago.

“Today is different from 2012 because these MPs were elected in their respective regions,” he said. “They have genuine constituents. Somalia is moving forward and Somali people are maturing.”

DSRCC Wanyoto welcomed the inauguration of the parliamentarians and noted the critical role played by the Somali security forces and AMISOM in ensuring that the electoral process was conducted peacefully.

“Today we have seen Members of Parliament inaugurated and sworn in and the Speaker handing over power to the eldest Member of Parliament to oversee the next phase of the election of the Speaker, who will then oversee the election of the president,” said Ms. Wanyoto.