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February 17, 2012

Somalia Leaders Sign Agreements on Government Formation

Somalian leaders have concluded a conference in the semi-autonomous state of Puntland with an agreement on the formation of a new elected government.

Somalian President Shaykh Sharif Shaykh Ahmad and the president of the Puntland regional administration, Abdirahman Farole, both attended the conference, along with international envoys from the United Nations and the African Union.

The three-day conference ended early Saturday, with representatives agreeing to set up a bicameral legislature. The lower house is to have 225 seats divided among Somalia's major clans.

The upper house will contain representatives from each of Somalia's states. Because new states may yet be created, the number of seats in the upper house has not been finalized.

The new parliament is also expected to have a membership of 30 percent women.

Somalia is to adopt a constitution before the elections which are to be held within a year.

During opening statements of the conference, Puntland's President Farole urged leaders and the Somalian people to reconcile their differences and work together to establish a strong and stable democracy.

Somalia has not had a recognized central government since 1991 when rebels took over the country and it spiraled into chaos.

Some information for this report was provided by AFP and Reuters.