The president of Somalia has sent a letter of thanks to Voice of America for carrying out a telephone survey that asked Somalis how they feel about a draft constitution that is being considered for the country.
"The Voice of America poll of Somalis has helped Somalis understand their new constitution and it has opened a space for Somalis to read, discuss and react to this important document," President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said in a letter sent to the VOA Somali Service on Tuesday.
VOA's Somali Service, using open source software from Google Ideas, polled more than 3,000 Somalis over three months about key provisions of the draft constitution and the kind of government they want.
A data analysis of the results, published in June on www.voanews.com, shows that those surveyed are overwhelmingly in favor of a strong central government, a direct vote on the constitution, and Islamic law to be the foundation of the country's civil and criminal code.
President Ahmed says the poll allowed Somalis to see what their neighbors and fellow countrymen think about some of the constitution's most controversial articles.
"The new constitution is a critical step forward in Somalia's roadmap for its future; the ability of Somalis to speak out and share in this process is the heart of democracy," says President Ahmed. "We thank Voice of America for undertaking this project."