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Somali Parliament Prepares to Elect President

  • VOA News

Somali presidential candidates are taking turns addressing parliament, as lawmakers get set to elect a new leader for the country.

The election is the latest step in a U.N.-backed plan to create a stable central government in Somalia, which has lacked any such authority since 1991.

The 25 declared candidates are each allotted 20 minutes to talk to lawmakers, though some candidates overran their time Friday.

In an open letter to lawmakers, U.N. envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga urged them to choose a president who can lead what he called "the next four years of transformation and peace-building in Somalia."

Mahiga also noted media reports of bribery and corruption in the process, adding that "wrong or right, the truth will come out one day."

The candidates' speeches are due to run through Saturday. The election is scheduled for Monday.

Candidates include the incumbent president, Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, and his prime minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

The transition plan has already resulted in a new constitution for Somalia and installation of a new parliament.

The previous Transitional Federal Government lasted eight years but could never assert authority due to chronic conflict in Somalia and governmental infighting.

The situation has improved in recent months with African Union forces dealing a series of defeats to militant group al-Shabab.