Somali election roadmap up for adoption

Posted on 02/09/2011

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A roadmap leading to the election of a new Somali president in August 2012 is expected to be adopted at a three-day meeting in the capital starting Sunday, the first major political conference in war-battered Mogadishu for four years.

Somalia has been run since 2004 by a string of transitional governments that have failed to achieve any tangible constitutional reform, political reconciliation or security, exasperating international donors and Somalis alike.

Now, patience has run out. Under the roadmap, Somali political leaders will have 12 months to carry out reforms they have agreed since a deal struck in Kampala in June ended months of high-level bickering.

The Horn of Africa nation has been mired in violence since a dictator was ousted in 1991. It has become a haven for Islamist militants and a launch pad for pirate attacks in busy nearby shipping lanes.

According to the draft roadmap recommended by a Somali preparatory committee on August 23, the aim is to hold polls by August 20 next year for members of a revamped federal parliament, local administrations and a president.

Now, the president is elected by lawmakers who are appointed according to a strict formula splitting power between Somalia’s major clans — a process that has damaged the legitimacy of transitional governments to date.

Given the dire security situation, the chance of holding popular elections in large parts of the Horn of Africa nation is slim, so it is not yet clear how polls will be conducted.

That’s why Augustine Mahiga, special envoy of the U.N. secretary-general, says coming up with a new constitution that would change the way lawmakers and presidents are selected will be crucial to giving any new government credibility.

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