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Somalis Optimistic About New Parliament

August 20, 2012

by Gabe Joselow

MOGADISHU – Somalia's new parliament is being sworn in Monday, bringing the country a step closer to installing a permanent government. The new parliament has a lot of work to do in the coming days, including the election of the next president.

Members of the new parliament were selected over the past few weeks by a technical selection committee, working with a group of Somali elders.

While the parliament will eventually seat 275 members, they have settled for now on only 225 - which is enough to convene the body.

Some 60 nominees were disqualified by the technical selection committee because they were deemed unfit, due to allegations of corruption or associations with warlords.

U.N. Special Representative for Somalia Augustine Mahiga said Sunday the rest of the members should be installed soon.

"In coming days as parliament is installed, the rest of the members of parliament will be added up to that list and very soon, in a matter of days hopefully, the election of the speaker and the deputies and the election of the president by the parliament will be in place,” Mahiga said.

Somali presidential candidate and former prime minister Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo is optimistic.

“I'm sure they [new parliament] will be different in some ways, many of them are from the diaspora, many of them are new to the political climate. And still you have good, former members of parliament who have good experience,” Farmajo said.

Farmajo and other presidential candidates have been meeting with members of the new parliament to try to secure their votes. Somali political leaders have said vote buying and influence peddling threaten to corrupt the process.

Somalia's Transitional Federal Government has been in power since 2004, though it was never able to assert authority over the country.

Political leaders missed an August 20 deadline to complete the transition and to elect a new president.

The country's constitution minister says the current president and government will continue to serve in a caretaking capacity until the new president is elected.


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