Somali MPs to elect new president
10 September 2012, 11:31
Mogadishu - Somalia's parliament votes on Monday for
a new president in what the UN has described as a historic election for
the war-torn nation, which has lacked an effective central government
The election is the final stage of a UN-backed
process to set up a new administration for the country, whose 25
presidential hopefuls include the outgoing prime minister and president.
election has been delayed several times - having already missed a 20
August deadline - but international pressure has increased on parliament
to choose a president swiftly.
The UN special representative for
Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, last week described it as a "historic"
election, praising efforts to "move forward to a new more legitimate and
Analysts have taken a far gloomier
outlook on the process, suggesting it offers little but a reshuffling of
key figures and positions.
Somalia has lacked an effective
central government since president Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted in
1991, unleashing cycles of bloody conflict that have defied countless
Ruthless warlords and militia groups including
al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab insurgents have controlled mini-fiefdoms that
African Union troops and other forces have only recently started to
Outgoing president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, in power since
2009, is one of the favourites, although he cuts a controversial figure
with Western observers.
Theft of public funds
report in July said that under his presidency, "systematic
embezzlement, pure and simple misappropriation of funds and theft of
public money have become government systems" - claims Sharif has
"We have achieved some goals towards improved security
with port, airport, bank and other national institutions operating
normally," Sharif said in his campaign speech to parliament on Saturday.
you give me the opportunity for the second time to continue my work,
the country will achieve more to overcome the current painful
situations," he added.
Outgoing prime minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a US-educated economist, is another strong candidate.
realised more on peace building, constitutional affairs and good
governance in my 14 months of service," he also told parliament
The new parliament, whose members were selected last
month by a group of traditional elders, will vote in a secret ballot in
up to three rounds. Each candidate had to pay $10 000 to enter the race.
arguments have begun between rival challengers, divided along Somalia's
notoriously fractious clan lines, and the UN Security Council has
issued repeated warnings of "intimidation and corruption".
future of Somalia depends on each and every legislator voting for
whomever they believe can best lead their country," Mahiga said. "I
encourage them to carry out this sacred trust free from any external
The council has
warned of its "willingness to take action against individuals whose acts
threaten the peace, stability or security of Somalia".
Britain's ambassador to Somalia Matt Baugh said last week that both the
outgoing president and prime minister had assured him of "their
commitment to respect [the] election outcome".
A candidate needs
to take two-thirds of the vote to win outright, otherwise the top four
candidates will go into a second round, with a third round of the final
two. The winner is selected by a simple majority.
developments come as African Union and Somali troops make significant
gains against the hardline Shabaab, although they remain a major threat.
Ethiopian troops are also battling them from the south and west.
extremist insurgents last month abandoned the port of Marka, leaving
the Shabaab with two major ports in southern Somalia - Barawe and the
rebel bastion of Kismayo - although an international naval blockade has
already greatly squeezed maritime access there.
The Shabaab a
year ago abandoned their last fixed bases in Mogadishu, where they have
since reverted to guerrilla tactics, claiming a series of suicide
attacks and roadside bombs.