Interview with Prof. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Prime Minister, Transitional Federal Government, Somalia on the constitution survey conducted by VOA. -- June 13, 2012
VOA has conducted telephone surveys about opinions on key sections of the constitution among some 3,000 adults from all regions of Somalia who volunteered to participate after hearing about the poll, or who agreed to participate after being called randomly from published listings or reached in a refugee camp; the poll asked what they want in their new constitution and what they want for the future of their country.
The poll shows that Somalis want a Somalia based on the civil and criminal codes of Sharia. They want a strong central government and relatively fewer powers delegated to states. They are divided over the inclusion of women in government. They are divided over whether states should have their own constitutions and over how long the president’s term in office should be. They strongly support protection for press freedom. They do not want children under the age of 18 to be used in armed conflicts. By a large margin, they want to be able to vote as a people on the constitution in a national referendum.
There is no referendum at this stage. The approval process calls for the constitution to be adopted provisionally by a select group of 825 traditional and community leaders called a Constituent Assembly. Eventually, Somalia’s new permanent parliament will vote on the document. The VOA telephone poll, along with the VOA Somali service radio call-in program, “Constitution Square” attempted to open a space that allowed Somalis to express their own views about their constitution and to hear the views of their neighbors and countrymen.
How the Poll was Conducted
Three separate polls were conducted between 4/20/12 and 6/10/12. Each poll carried out 1,075 successful telephone call interviews. Phone numbers were drawn from a total database of over 20,000 telephone numbers. Roughly twenty percent of those 20,000 numbers came from people who volunteered to participate in the survey, after hearing about it through the Somali service radio program. Some eighty percent of the telephone numbers in the base were drawn randomly from public access telephone directory lists. Because the poll sample did not consistently use random methods, the results reflect only the views of those who were surveyed, and should not be assumed to reflect larger populations in Somalia.
All calls in the survey were made to the same five regions: Mogadishu, Puntland, Somaliland, south and central Somalia, and the Dadhaab refugee camp in Kenya. Numbers were dialed randomly. Each number was dialed only once.
Calls were made from Washington DC and from locations inside Somalia. All calls were made by staff working for Voice of America.
The calls were made through an open source software application developed by Google Idea for this purpose.
Who Answered the Questions
Most of the respondents to the survey were men. Most respondents were between the ages of 15 and 44. Most of the responses came from Mogadishu for reasons including population distribution and the ability of the software to make successful calls to areas with adequate telephone infrastructure. The fewest number of responses came from Dadhaab because of phone infrastructure and from south-central Somalia for reasons including the influence of insurgents.