Somalia to select new parliament in August
Somalia will choose a new parliament as planned later this year and the president and regional leaders will meet on June 20 to discuss how future lawmakers will be selected as there will not be a popular vote, the president’s office said.
Somalia abandoned its plan to hold a popular vote in 2016 last July. The current government and parliament’s term ends in August and new lawmakers are due to be chosen in the same month.
In its last elections, in 2012, members of parliament were chosen by elders and then those lawmakers chose Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president. It was Somalia’s first vote since 1991, when warlords ousted president Mohamed Siad Barre, plunging the country into years of war and chaos.
Last month parliament failed to approve a plan on how to run the next elections, forcing the president to issue a decree for indirect elections – elections other than by public vote – which was approved by a conference of regional leaders.
“The conference repeats the previous promise that there will be no extension term and the election will take place at the planned time,” the president’s office said in a statement late on Friday.
Procedural details would be discussed at another conference of regional leaders and the president on June 20 in Baidoa, the statement added.
Somalia’s government has been under international pressure to ensure an election is held on time to avoid a situation where the current parliament and government extend their stay.
Diplomats have long said that delays in writing a new constitution, registering voters and other groundwork have meant the goal of holding a one person one vote poll is unrealistic.
“The leaders agreed to make an explicit political roadmap for 2016-2020 to ensure an international model of elections (one man one vote) by 2020,” the statement said.
This year’s electoral process is expected to expand the number of people picking the lawmakers.
In 2012, just 135 elders selected members of the lower house. Under new plans, 13,750 people from across federal states will chose 275 members of the lower house. A new 54-seat upper house will also be created to represent the states.
Somalia’s government still faces a threat from al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, which wants to topple it and impose its strict interpretation of Islam on Somalia.
The group has been driven out of major strongholds by the African and Somali forces but continues to launch bomb and gun attacks against officials, politicians and others.