Survey Offers Rare Glimpse of Somalis’ Political Views


A new VOA survey offers a rare look at the political views of people in war-torn Somalia.

More than 3,000 people throughout Somalia responded to an unprecedented survey about the country’s proposed constitution.

More than three-quarters of the respondents supported the draft constitution.

The vast majority backed a provision calling for Islamic law, or Sharia.

They were divided on the inclusion of women in politics and largely supported the protection of press freedoms.

The majority also backed a strong central government in the fractured country, which has endured two decades of internal conflict and lawlessness.

VOA conducted the survey with technical support from Google.

VOA’s Somali Service collected more than 20,000 phone numbers for the survey and dispatched reporters to conduct interviews in more remote areas.

Somali Service chief Abdirahman Yabarow said people in areas controlled by militant group al-Shabab were the most difficult to survey.

“You have to make really 20, 30, 40 calls in order to get one successful call. So it was very difficult to get people who are willing to talk. And people were very afraid. And I will say they had reason to be afraid because these guys, Shabab, were not joking. They’re killing people day after day.”

The draft constitution is likely to be adopted provisionally next month by Somalia’s 825-member Constituent Assembly.

About 61 percent of Somalis surveyed believe people should vote on the measure in a nationwide referendum.

The international community and Somali government have said the security situation remains too unstable to hold a nationwide vote.

Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government was established in 2004, but has been unable to assert power because of chronic infighting and the chaos in the country.