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Somali Leaders Plan to Revise Election Model


FILE - Somali police gather at the wreckage of a car following a bombing in the capital city of Mogadishu, March 9, 2016. Government officials have proposed a new electoral process to help quell violence in the country.

FILE - Somali police gather at the wreckage of a car following a bombing in the capital city of Mogadishu, March 9, 2016. Government officials have proposed a new electoral process to help quell violence in the country.

Somalia's central government and officials from the semi-autonomous Puntland region have agreed on a plan to revise the elections system after this year’s voting, a move that could ease decades of political instability and conflict.

The current clan-based formula, still in place for choosing the next president and parliament sometime this August, tentatively would be scrapped and replaced by a one-person, one-vote system for the 2020 elections.

In a statement to the media, Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke welcomed the proposed reform to the Horn of Africa nation’s electoral process.

For years, Somali governments have been constructed using the so-called 4.5 formula, a system that gives equal representation to the country's four major clans and a smaller number of posts to so-called minor clans.

Whether the formula is blame or not, the country has had a string of unstable governments that failed to win popularity or exert much authority.

It might be hard to fulfill some aspects of the new plan, said Ali Adawe, a Somali politician based in Nairobi. He said that a similar 2012 proposal involved changing how representatives would be chosen and that this latest deal appeared to contain several loopholes.

Independent analyst Abdiwahab Sheikh Abdisamad said it would be up to the next government to establish the one-person, one-vote process.

"One man, one vote can work in Somalia," he said. "It depends how the incoming government – how they work on it, how they reconcile the warring clans, how they are going to build the government institutions, how they are going to empower the electoral body and how they are going to strengthen the capacity of the Somali security apparatus."

Authorities in Puntland, one of Somalia’s most stable areas, said they were open to helping other regions and constituencies deal with security challenges during elections.

Still, many fear the political bickering, clan politics and the continued threat of al-Shabab militants may derail the electoral process and Somalia’s future.

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