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New Somali Parliament takes Office

VOA
A handout picture released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team, shows Yurub Ahmed Raabi, the winner of a seat in the Somalia's parliament (House of the People), celebrating with delegates who voted for heat a polling station
A handout picture released by the African Union-United Nations Information Support Team, shows Yurub Ahmed Raabi, the winner of a seat in the Somalia's parliament (House of the People), celebrating with delegates who voted for heat a polling station

NAIROBI/WASHINGTON-Somalia has sworn in new members of parliament following a process marred by irregularities and charges of corruption.

Tuesday’s swearing-in ceremony in Mogadishu saw 281 members of the upper and lower houses of parliament take office. VOA stringers in the city reported that security forces conducted stepped-up patrols in the streets during the inauguration.

The country is delaying its presidential election for a fourth time, likely until late January. Independent regional analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad said the swearing-in heralded the beginning of a new era.

"The new members of parliament, almost 45 percent of them are former members of parliament, while 55 percent are new young, energetic and educated people," he said, adding that for the first time, a "significant number" of the new members are women.

Mohamed Osman Jawari, speaker of the outgoing parliament, formally proclaimed the handover of power to just the second new group of Somali lawmakers in 25 years.

The new members "have been sworn in and from now on they are in charge of the country’s legislative responsibilities,” he said.

Somalia was unable to conduct direct nationwide elections because of security and logistical problems. Instead, the members of the upper and lower chambers were elected by some 14,000 "special delegates" who in turn were chosen by clan leaders and regional representatives. The president will now be elected by parliament.

That vote had been scheduled to take place on Wednesday, but electoral commission officials told VOA's Somali service the vote has been postponed to Jan. 24. The commission has yet to announce the date publicly.

Critics say the parliamentary selection process was marred by vote buying, violence, and intimidation. The electoral commission says it is redoing the elections for five posts because of these irregularities.

The commission said at one point that it would redo 24 races but then dropped the number back to five. Other seats are still vacant as clan leaders have not yet decided on the candidates.

 


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