Tue, Aug 21, 2012 - Page 6 News List

Somalia fails to elect new president as scheduled

AFP, MOGADISHU

The election of a new Somalian president would not take place yesterday as scheduled, newly appointed lawmakers said, but added that they expected to convene the parliament for the first time later in the day.

“The presidential elections will not be held today,” lawmaker Aweys Qarni said. “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 ended its mandate yesterday 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 UN-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 then-Somalian president Mohammed 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 who has been newly re-elected to parliament.

“In coming days the new parliament will select a speaker, and they will organize 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, EU, the US and UN issued on Sunday.

“The conclusion of the transition should mark the beginning of more representative government in Somalia,” the statement added, 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 on Friday.

The remaining 75 names were still pending at the weekend.

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