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Sunday, September 25, 2016

Somalia misses poll deadline amid confusion on way forward

MOGADISHU, Sept. 25 (Xinhua) -- Somalia's electoral team failed to meet the Sept. 24 deadline for the start of the elections of members of the Lower House, raising concerns the delay could affect the election of the president slated for Oct. 30.





By Saturday, the day polling stations were set to open in the regional capitals, the Federal Indirect Elections Implementing Team, FIEIT and its state level equivalent were still held up in a meeting to iron out contentious issues.

The polls body said in a statement on Sept. 21 that elders tasked with choosing the delegates who will elect members of the Lower House were yet to submit their lists to the electoral body even as it emerged clans were not willing to reserve seats to women in line with the poll procedures.

The polls body also said it was facing financial, political and security challenges which could delay the electoral process for the Horn of Africa nation.

The international community committed to meet 60 percent of the budget while Somalia would clear the rest through Federal Government purse and candidates fees.

Besides the technical aspects of the elections, security remains a key challenge. The militant group Al-Shabaab announced last week it would disrupt the polls, raising concerns this could scare some voters away.

Analysts have expressed fears that a delay in parliamentary elections will automatically influence that of the president which is scheduled for Oct. 30.

The Presidency announced in a decree Sept. 4 that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would have limited powers after Sept. 10 when his constitutionally mandated term ran out.

The decree stipulated the extended stay in office must come to a close in November 6. But the delay of Parliamentary elections is likely to affect the October 30 Presidential poll.

The election of members of the Upper House which ought to be completed by Sept. 25 also stands postponed.

The timetable which set out the process to choose a new federal Parliament between Sept. 24 and Oct. 10 and president by Oct. 30 was endorsed by Somalia's National Leadership Forum.

The electoral body announced late last month that a list of 135 traditional elders was being finalized for selecting 14,025 members of Electoral Colleges, who will in turn elect the 275 members of the lower house of the next federal parliament.