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Somali Leaders Agree on Draft Constitution Before August Vote

Somali political leaders agreed on a draft constitution as a step toward elections to be held in less than two months to replace a transitional government, said Augustine Mahiga, the United Nations’ representative to the country.

The charter must be approved by a constituent assembly, which will meet for discussions next month, and then voted on in a national referendum, Mahiga said in an e-mailed statement. The agreement followed a meeting in the capital, Nairobi, attended by President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Puntland’s President Abdirahman Mohamed Mohamud, and the president of Galmudug, Mohamed Ahmed Alin, it said.

The country is to have a new constitution by next month and the Western-backed transitional government should be stepping aside for an elected government by Aug. 20. “The transitional period will end in less than 60 days and we have no time to lose,” Mahiga said.

Somalia has had no effective central government since the downfall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre more than two decades ago. The Horn of Africa government for the past five years has been battling the al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabaab militia that seeks to gain control of the country and establish Islamic law.

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