Somalia sets date for presidential election

Mogadishu: The Somali parliament will hold a presidential election on September 10, the final stage of a UN-backed process to set up a new administration for the war-torn country, an election official said on Friday.

“September 10, 2012, is the day that the presidential elections of the Somali Federal Republic will take place,” Osman Libah Ebrahim, spokesman for the presidential elections committee, told reporters.

The new parliament, whose members were selected this month by a group of traditional elders, will vote in a secret ballot.

The election has already been delayed several times — having already missed an August 20 deadline — but international pressure has increased on lawmakers to hold the vote swiftly.

At least a dozen candidates are expected to run for the top job, although officials will only begin accepting applications from September 3.

However, bitter arguments have begun between rival challengers, divided along Somalia’s notoriously fractious clan lines.

Outgoing president Shaikh Sharif Shaikh Ahmad, in power since 2009, is one of the favourites, though he cuts a controversial figure with Western observers.

A UN 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 rejected.

Veteran politician and former minister Mohammad Osman Jawari, a legal expert who helped draft a new constitution for Somalia, was elected speaker on Tuesday by fellow lawmakers.

Candidates will give their campaign speeches to parliament from September 7.

Somalia is trying to set up its first stable central government since the 1991 ousting of dictator Mohammad Siad Barre, which sparked rounds of bloody civil war.


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