News / Africa

Somalia May Miss Key Political Benchmarks

NAIROBI —Observers of Somalia's political transition process say the final political benchmarks to end the transition, including the election of a new president, will not be met by the August 20 deadline.  An arbitration committee working to solve clan disputes on how to share parliamentary seats is yet to reach agreement. Some reports also say the technical selection committee working to screen and approve members of the next parliament objects to some of the candidates put forward.

The transition process calls for clan elders to choose members of a new parliament. Those new lawmakers will then elect the new president.

In the next three days Somali officials are expected to finalize the list of 275 members of parliament, election for speaker, his two deputies and finally the president.

Garad Jamaa, the chief of the arbitration committee, told VOA some clans still have to agree on how to share seats allocated to their clans, sub-clans and sub-sub-clans.

“The distribution of MPs [members of parliament], some clans like Marehan clan, they had difficulties sorting out how to distribute members of their MPs," said Jamaa. "Also they were not sure how to or they were some disagreement on how to distribute among clans.”

Jamaa also says politicians and government officials are constantly interfering with the process of selecting new lawmakers.

“There is interference from politicians, either from the federal government and local administration like Puntland [region of Somalia] is interfering constantly the way or who the elders should choose," he said.

Somali local media are reporting the Technical Select Committee (TSC) has rejected more than 60 selected potential legislators because of their connection and involvement in Somalia’s civil war.

Professor Abdullahi Hirey, head of the TSC, told VOA's Somali service Wednesday it is important to block such people who have committed crimes against their own people.

There is a problem, he says, Somalis are suspicious that there are other people from outside who are involved in the process.    Hirey said whether you are a Muslim or not, when someone has committed crimes even if he is your brother you have to say the crimes he committed we have to be honest about this most of these things it’s a general knowledge (war criminals) and we know it.

In a statement the United Nations special representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, said the process to end the transition has been difficult and required hard and courageous decisions.
 
Mahiga said, as the end to the transitional period nears, Somali political leaders, elders and other parties have come too far to fail.

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