Somali Civil Society Organisations (CSOs) and Somali Public Agenda (SPA) First Forum on Contentious Issues in the Country’s Provisional Constitution.
On December 8, 2022, Somali Public Agenda (SPA) held a forum in its office in Mogadishu. The forum was organized for the Somali Civil Society Organizations (CSOs) in partnership with Urur-Kaab, an EU-funded project that assists the CSOs in building their capacities and improving their advocacy efforts. Somali Public Agenda joined this partnership to support the CSOs on how they can incorporate their advocacy plans and activities with evidence-based research to better influence policymakers and amplify their messages.
The first of three forums, which was organized and co-facilitated by SPA and Urur-Kaab, took place at the SPA forums and training hall. Participants (19) representing several CSOs in Mogadishu and Kismayo participated in the forum physically, while other CSOs representatives (17) in Kismayo, Baidoa, Garowe, and Beledwayne participated virtually. Also, the Urur-Kaab Deputy Team Leader, Feysal Osman, and regional Programme Liasson Officers (PLOs) joined the meeting virtually.
During the forum, the Somali Public Agenda presented its policy paper on negotiations of contentious political issues in Somalia, co-produced with the Somali Dialogue Platform/Rift Valley Institute. The paper, titled “Revitalizing the Negotiation of Contentious Political Issues: Key Considerations Moving Forward,” presents an inclusive negotiation architecture in which civil society can play an important role.
The SPA director, Mahad Wasuge, opened the forum by welcoming the participants, both physical and virtual, and giving a brief overview of the Somali Public Agenda and the work it does. He further elaborated on the SPA’s different branches including training, policy, and forums centers. Additionally, he mentioned how SPA presented this paper to different stakeholders including politicians and lawmakers in the capital cities of the different Federal Member States and Djibouti. He also stressed the importance of the CSOs in the state-building efforts in Somalia and how their advocacy is vital to the development of the country.
After that, the stage was given to the participants, and they were asked to introduce themselves, where they are based (for those who joined the forum virtually), and their roles in their respective organizations. They also briefly talked about the different areas their organizations are engaged in. Urur-Kaab deputy team leader, Feysal Osman, concluded the introductory segment by briefly reflecting on the induction meeting between SPA and CSOs in late October and the key thematic areas that were identified by the CSOs. Feysal further talked about the significance of the CSOs and how Urur-Kaab supports their activities.
Feysal explained the critical role of the CSOs as advocates and pressure groups to pressure politicians and Somali leaders to deliver better public services at the federal and state levels. In addition, Feysal mentioned the role of Urur-Kaab in helping build the capacities of the CSOs in Somalia and Somaliland. Moreover, he discussed how SPA and CSOs can work hand in hand since SPA produces evidence-based research, which the CSOs are in high need of using for their advocacy activities.
Following the conclusion of the introductory segment, the SPA director, Mahad Wasuge, officially started presenting the paper to the CSOs. He began by explaining the different processes that the provisional constitution went through before it was finally approved by a National Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu in 2012, how the Federal Member States were formed, and the different powers/responsibilities that the constitution gave to the Federal Government and the Federal Member States. He then went into detail about the main contentious issues in the constitution that Somali politicians and leaders disagree as well as the various methods that the paper recommends for resolving those disagreements. Following the presentation, the first session was concluded, and participants were given 15 minutes for a tea/coffee break.
After returning from the tea/coffee break, the second session has begun. In the second session, CSOs participants were given the chance to discuss the thematic issues that the presentation covered. Most participants, both physical and virtual, got their chance to ask questions, share their thoughts, and comment on the issue at hand. The questions and comments were made in three rounds, with the SPA director answering the questions in each round.
Before the forum concluded, Mahad Wasuge further explained the blog writing programme that SPA holds twice a year after Feysal Osman inquired about it. He announced that the next intake will be open next month, in January 2023, and that everyone interested can participate after completing all the requirements. Finally, the forum was closed by the Urur-Kaab deputy team leader, Feysal Osman, who thanked SPA for the successful forum and the CSOs representatives for their commitment.