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The National Democratic Institute is a nonprofit, nonpartisan organization working to support and strengthen democratic institutions worldwide through citizen participation, openness and accountability in government.


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Since September 2012, renewed efforts have been made to re-establish the Somali state. With the best chance at stability in the past 20 years, the new House of the People of the Federal Parliament elected civil society activist and education campaigner, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, as president of Somalia on Sept. 10. The election signaled a symbolic and historic turning of the page for the war-torn country as the international community and Somalis observed the peaceful transition toward a new political era. Following the election, President Mohamud appointed Abdi Farah Shirdon as his prime minister. The new and reduced 10-member cabinet includes Somalia’s first female foreign minister who also is the country’s first female deputy prime minister.

On Jan. 17, 2013, the U.S. government recognized the new Somalia federal government during President Mohamud's first visit to the U.S. The U.S. had not officially recognized a Somali government since 1991.

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NDI in Somalia

The Institute has been active in Somalia since late 2005, implementing programs with support from the US Agency for International Development (USAID), the Norwegian Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) and the UK Department for International Development (DFID). NDI programs include legislative and executive strengthening, civil society capacity building, civic education on the constitutional and political processes, and public opinion research to aggregate Somali views on constitutional and political processes.

NDI works with political and civil society actors and partners to support transparent, accountable and sustainable democratic institutions, including federal and regional legislative and executive bodies as well as independent institutions, e.g., the former Independent Federal Constitutional Commission (IFCC), the former Committee of Experts (CoE), and the former Constituent Assembly. NDI conducts programs in two areas within Somalia, south central (Mogadishu) via local implementing organizations and the regional state of Puntland.

At the federal level, the Institute has worked with the federal offices of the president, prime minister and the speaker of parliament, political and administrative heads of more than 30 ministries, and nearly 400 members of parliament (MPs), including the parliamentary women’s caucus.

At the regional level in Puntland, the Institute has collaborated with regional ministries on issues related to women and youth participation through a series of ministerial strengthening trainings, which has included more than 200 women in local councils, community leaders in 11 regions and all 28 directors general. In civil society, NDI has worked with women’s groups to increase women’s participation in the constitution-making and political processes, reaching several hundred women through public consultations on the draft constitution.

Legislative Program

The Institute’s current legislative program at the federal and regional levels focuses on parliamentary officials and staff in the use of parliamentary procedures and practices for legislation, public outreach and executive oversight. NDI has supported the federal House of the People in developing and implementing its rules of procedure as well as assisting parliamentary officials to create the parliament’s legislative agenda.

  • In January 2010, 23 women MPs met to establish the Somali Women’s Parliamentary Association (SOWPA), the first women’s caucus in the history of the Somali parliament.
  • Members of parliament form the Somali Women Parliamentarians' Association»
  • In August 2010, NDI and the United Nations Development Program (UNDP) held a session with Transitional Federal Parliament (TFP) and TFG members on the development of a transitional agenda to meet the August 2012 deadline.
  • After the January 2011 Puntland assessment, NDI held a workshop for members of the Puntland House of Representatives and staff to learn about their roles and responsibilities.
  • In March 2011, the Institute held a roundtable on the role of MPs in the reconciliation process as the country approached the scheduled end of the transitional period.
  • In January 2012, the House of the People adopted rules of procedure which represented a qualitative change in how the parliament functions. Also in January, the House of the People exercised its oversight authority, questioning the foreign and defense cabinet ministers in open parliamentary session related to issues of foreign affairs and the detention of journalists by Somali security forces.

Executive Program

The Institute’s current Somalia executive program has focused on the Somalia Federal Government’s (SFG) overall strategic planning and has supported the prime minister’s office to define policy coordination processes across offices and ministries. NDI’s executive program in Puntland has supported executives and directors general in developing core ministerial capabilities and administrative planning processes.

  • NDI has supported the Office of the President to develop basic organization of staff responsibilities, such as chief of staff and scheduler, as well as regular briefings and meetings to manage the president’s agenda and government activities.
  • In November 2011, the Council of Ministers developed observations and recommendations for carrying out the government’s transitional roadmap.
  • From March through April 2012, the Institute provided trainings to more than 200 women in local councils and community leaders in 11 regions of Puntland.
  • Peaceful presidential election, expanded parliament offer hope for political progress in Somalia»

Civic Education Program

In 2011 and 2012, NDI supported Somali constitutional experts and drafters in their consultations with and outreach to Somalis in country as well as diaspora in Kenya, Norway, the UK and the US. The program incorporates civic education activities, including a public opinion research component intended to reflect the will of the public and the unique political, social and economic circumstances of the region. The program has enhanced the ability of Somali officials to engage the Somali public on constitution-related issues.

  • In June 2010, the Institute conducted its inaugural round of focus group research in Puntland and south central. The findings are outlined in NDI’s report: Looking Toward the Future: Citizen Attitudes about Peace, Governance and the Future in Somalia.
  • In October 2011, NDI released its second report on Somali public opinion. The findings are outlined here: Searching for Peace: Views and Comments on the Foundations of a New Government.
  • In February 2012, NDI held a workshop with the CoE and IFCC members to develop methods for conducting public consultations on the constitution. Throughout March and early April, the Institute supported the CoE as it held consultations inside Somalia and with diaspora in Europe and the U.S. The consultation process collected feedback from a total of 2,413 people including CSO members, youth, elders, journalists, artists, academics, government officials, internally displaced persons (IDPs) and religious and traditional leaders.
  • From May to September 2012, NDI supported civic education activities with Somali partners, helping inform the Somali public and diaspora about the constitutional process, especially about the final stages of the transition, including the establishment of a new parliament and government and the implementation of a new constitution. Information about the provisional constitution and related processes were broadcast in Somalia and Kenya as well as on Somali radio stations and cable television outlets worldwide. Program topics included overview of the constitutional process; reflections from the Somalis on constitutional consultations; founding principles of a constitution; federalism; citizenship; systems of governance; overview of the transitional process through August 2012; and, Somalia’s Constituent Assembly. NDI’s radio programs have reached over 12 million listeners, and television programs have been seen by over 14.5 million viewers.
  • In August 2012, NDI supported media monitoring of the Somalia Constituent Assembly in Mogadishu. NDI’s media partners recorded over 2,822 Internet hits/views during the Assembly’s proceedings.
  • In September 2012, NDI supported media broadcasting of the Somalia parliamentary elections of president and speaker of parliament in Mogadishu. NDI’s media partners recorded over 1,217,672 Internet hits/views during these elections.
  • New report shows Somalis reject clan»
  • Research shows Somali people are eager to engage in a new way forward»

Contact Information

For more information about these programs, use our contact form or contact:

Rakeb Abate, Senior Program Manager, Southern and East Africa

Resource: Press Room
News and Views
09/18/2012 | International Herald Tribune
News and Views:
News and Views
09/12/2011 | New York Times
News and Views:
Blog entry
Blog entry: NDI in the News
Published Publication Title Author
03/06/2014 Equal Access: How to Include Persons with Disabilities in Elections and Political Processes
National Democratic Institute, International Foundation for Electoral Systems (IFES)
10/23/2013 Increasing Women’s Political Participation Through Effective Training Programs: A Guide to Best Practices and Lessons Learned
Training Manual
National Democratic Institute
05/30/2013 Remarks of Hodan Ahmed at the 2013 Madeleine K. Albright Grant Luncheon
Hodan Ahmed
04/03/2012 Declaration of Global Principles for Nonpartisan Election Observation and Monitoring by Citizen Organizations and Code of Conduct for Nonpartisan Citizen Election Observers and Monitors
10/31/2011 Empowering Women for Stronger Political Parties: A Good Practices Guide to Promote Women's Political Participation (Now available in Burmese)
Julie Ballington
09/01/2011 Searching for Peace: Views and Comments from Somalia on the Foundations of a New Government
Focus Group
Andrea L. Levy
08/10/2011 Research Shows Somali People Are Eager to Engage in a New Way Forward
Press Release
National Democratic Institute
12/06/2010 Looking Toward the Future: Citizen Attitudes about Peace, Governance and the Future in Somalia
Andrea L. Levy
08/01/2008 Somalia: The Transitional Federal Government, An Assessment Report
National Democratic Institute
01/16/2007 Somalia Watcher
National Democratic Institute
12/01/2005 NDI 2005 Annual Report
National Democratic Institute
10/27/2005 Declaration of Principles for International Election Observation and Code of Conduct for International Election Observers
05/01/2004 Legislative Public Outreach on Poverty Issues, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 3
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Parliamentary-Civic Collaboration for Monitoring Poverty Reduction Initiatives, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 2
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
05/01/2004 Legislative-Executive Communication on Poverty Reduction Strategies, Parliaments and Poverty Series, Toolkit No. 1
National Democratic Institute United Nations Development Programme (UNDP)
01/01/1997 Political Parties and the Transition To Democracy: A Primer in Democratic Party-Building for Leaders, Organizers and Activists
National Democratic Institute