So­ma­lia de­lays elec­tion again

Kuwait Times - - INTERNATIONAL -

MO­GADISHU: So­ma­lia has de­cided to de­lay its pres­i­den­tial elec­tion for a fourth time amid al­le­ga­tions of fraud and in­tim­i­da­tion, an elec­toral of­fi­cial said yes­ter­day. The vote had been set for Wed­nes­day, but the of­fi­cial said it likely will be Jan. 24 in­stead, though lead­ers were dis­cussing the spe­cific tim­ing. The of­fi­cial spoke on con­di­tion of anonymity be­cause he was not au­tho­rized to speak to the me­dia. This Horn of Africa na­tion is riven by clan ri­val­ries and threat­ened by Al-Shabab Is­lamic ex­trem­ists op­posed to Western-style democ­racy.

So­ma­lia to­mor­row is ex­pected to swear in par­lia­ment mem­bers, who are elected by some 14,000 del­e­gates se­lected by their clans. Par­lia­ment mem­bers elect the coun­try’s pres­i­dent, who is not cho­sen di­rectly by pop­u­lar vote. The elec­toral of­fi­cial said the new par­lia­ment was likely to elect a speaker on Jan 4. Op­po­si­tion lead­ers have ex­pressed con­cern over the months-long de­lay, say­ing the process is marred by fraud in fa­vor of the cur­rent ad­min­is­tra­tion’s hand-picked mem­bers. So­mali of­fi­cials were not im­me­di­ately avail­able for com­ment.

“We are deeply con­cerned about the de­lay of the elec­tions for the fourth time,” said Jabril Ab­dulle, a pres­i­den­tial can­di­date. “Fail­ure to hold elec­tions in a timely man­ner will cer­tainly gen­er­ate new in­sta­bil­ity that rad­i­cal groups may take ad­van­tage of.” He also said the elec­toral process lacks over­sight.

So­ma­lia has been trying to re­build af­ter re­cently es­tab­lish­ing its first func­tion­ing cen­tral gov­ern­ment since 1991, when war­lords over­threw a long­time dic­ta­tor and plunged the im­pov­er­ished na­tion into chaos. The elec­tion de­lays have wor­ried some in the in­ter­na­tional com­mu­nity, which had ex­pressed in­ter­est in hav­ing the votes car­ried out this year.

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