Somali officials agree fourth reschedule of presidential elections

Somali officials agree fourth reschedule of presidential elections
Somali leaders have insisted presidential elections will be held on 28 December, despite the poll being rescheduled three times due to the nation's instability.
2 min read
09 December, 2016
This marks the fourth time the polls have been rescheduled [AFP]
Somalia will hold presidential polls later this month, after allegations of bribery, fraud and voter intimidation delayed the move three times, reports said on Friday.

Political leaders said they agreed to hold the polls on 28 December - the electoral commission announced - despite being rescheduled for September, October and November previously.

Somali leaders said they expected a new parliament to elect a speaker on 22 December before parliament members elect a president later that week - a statement issued revealed - after political stakeholders met to discuss the issue late on Thursday.

The Horn of Africa nation - which is fragmented by both clan rivalries as well as militant groups, including al-Shabaab, who oppose Western-style democracy - has struggled to hold elections.

Somalia's president is not elected by popular vote. Some 14,000 delegates selected by their clans elect parliament members, who elect the president.

The original promise of a one-person, one-vote national election was abandoned in 2015 due to insecurity, political infighting and lack of basic requirements such as an electoral roll.

Instead an electoral college system has been instituted whereby 135 traditional clan elders chose 14,025 delegates who are voting for each of the 275 parliamentary seats, distributed according to clan.

The 54 seats in the new upper house were distributed by region.

Somalia's international donors and backers are eager for the change of government to happen during this calendar year, allowing them to stick to the four-year presidential terms laid out in the country's interim constitution.

The latest figures issued by the UN show that 212 out of 275 parliamentary seats and 43 out of 54 senate seats have been voted for.

The process has been riddled with claims of rigging and corruption with some observers calling it an "auction" rather than an election.

Officials have said voting for members of the upper house is almost complete, while that for the lower house is just past the halfway mark.

Somalia has been attempting to rebuild after recently establishing its first functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a long-time dictator and plunged the impoverished nation into instability.