Somali parliament delays presidential election

2012-08-20 14:22 Somalia - The election of a new Somali president will not take place Monday as scheduled, newly appointed lawmakers said, but added they expected to convene the parliament for the first time later in the day.

“The presidential elections will not be held today,” said lawmaker Aweys Qarni. “The election committee must still be convened…. There is still work to go before the presidential elections.”

War-torn Somalia’s Western-backed transitional government ends its mandate on Monday after eight years of political infighting and rampant corruption.

It is being replaced by new lawmakers selected by a group of 135 traditional elders in a United Nations-backed process, the latest bid to bring stability to the Horn of Africa country.

Somalia has not had a stable central government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, which unleashed a bloody civil war and two decades of chaos.

“We are preparing for the first gathering of the new parliament today,” said Abinasir Garale, a lawmaker newly re-elected to parliament.

“In coming days the new parliament will select a speaker, and they will organise the election committee for the new president,” he said, adding that it was expected the eldest member would chair the meeting until elections were held.

Despite delays in the process of forming a new government, it was hailed as an “unprecedented opportunity for greater peace and stability” in a joint statement from the African Union, European Union, US and UN issued Sunday.

“The conclusion of the transition should mark the beginning of more representative government in Somalia,” added the statement, also signed by Norway, Turkey and East Africa’s main diplomatic body IGAD, among others.

Analysts have posed a far gloomier outlook on the process, suggesting it offers little but a reshuffling of positions.

The names of more than 200 new lawmakers chosen by a “technical selection committee” from a list prepared by clan elders were published Friday.

The remaining 75 names were still pending at the weekend “because of inter-clan argument and other reasons related to a lack of fulfilment of the conditions,” according to committee co-chair Halimo Yarey.

Some 70 nominees were rejected because they did not meet the requirements to serve in parliament. Lawmakers must be Somali citizens of sound mind, have a high school diploma and be free of ties to warlords or links to atrocities committed during the civil war.