UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official website] on Sunday applauded the Somali parties [statement] who have reached a "crucial political agreement" on Friday at the Garowe II Constitutional Conference [Garowe Online report]. According to Ban, the agreement provides the steps that Somalia [DOS backgrounder] must take in order to go about "ending the transition and putting in place a constitutional order in a new federal Somalia." The agreement also includes a provision that requires a minimum of 30 percent women to be included in the Independent Electoral Commission, the Constituent Assembly and the new Federal Parliament. Also known as the Garowe II Principles, the agreement was signed by six high-ranking diplomats including president of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) [CFR backgrounder] Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Gaas. The conference, which opened last Wednesday, was planned as an attempt to organize Somalia's most prominent diplomats in order to discuss the country's federal constitution, which has yet to be implemented. The conference came to a close on Friday.
The Garowe II Conference is one of the many steps the TFG has taken in order to create a functioning federal government in Somalia since the end of the Muhammad Siad Barre [Britannica profile] dictatorship in 1991. The plan for the new government developed at the conference is designed to replace the TFG [BBC report] and put in place a stable, more permanent government. There is skepticism among many observers as to whether this agreement will be implemented because Somalia has been involved in multiple agreements throughout the past few years. Details in the plan that need further development are expected to be worked out at the Somali conference in London, set to begin Thursday. Due to the lack of organized government in Somalia, maritime piracy has recently been a major issue. In November, France began the trial of six Somali pirates [JURIST report] on charges of hijacking, kidnapping and armed robbery in connection with a 2008 attack on a yacht. In October, two Somali pirates were sentenced to life in prison [JURIST report] by a judge in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia.