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More Than 200 Approved for New Somali Parliament

Augustine Mahiga, Special Representative of the United Nations Secretary General for Somalia and head of the U.N. Political Office in Somalia (UNPOS), looks on during a news conference in Mogadishu August 19, 2012, in this photograph released by the Afric
MOGADISHU — The United Nations and members of the diplomatic community say they are satisfied with the progress made so far by Somalia's political leaders and elders as they face an August 20 deadline to end the transitional government and elect a new president. Somalia's Technical Selection Committee, which is screening members for a new parliament, approved 215 new lawmakers on Sunday.
On the eve of the expected inauguration of Somalia's new parliament, representatives of the African Union, the U.N. and the international community reaffirmed their support for political leaders and elders who have worked hard for the past eight years to form a permanent government.
Speaking at a base near the airport in Mogadishu Sunday, the United Nations Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, said the steps in implementing the road map to end Somalia’s transitional government have been achieved.
“Working with all mathematical procession to tomorrow's date of the 20th I think the deadline to get this machinery of the last very last step has been achieved, we cannot say we have missed. At least 20th of August we are witnessing the beginning of the process of getting a government which can only take days," he said.
Alexander Rondos, the European Union special envoy to the Horn of Africa, also welcomed the progress being made to form a stable government.
“Despite significant challenges, the process has endured and it has also ensured the selection of elders, the convening of the National Constituent Assembly, and the adoption of the Provisional Constitution through a representative and transparent process taking place inside Somalia for the first time in 20 years," he said.
Somali political leaders were supposed to install a new government with an elected president by Monday - which marks the end of the U.N. mandate for the current Transitional Federal Government. Instead, a new parliament is expected to be inaugurated on that date.
According to Mr. Mahiga, the parliament members will elect the oldest member present as interim speaker.
So far, the Technical Selection Committee has rejected more than 60 selected potential legislators because of their involvement in Somalia’s civil war.
Somalia’s transitional parliament has been characterized by political bickering, but Mahiga says this new parliament will be different.
“You need to look at the list, that in the list of the parliamentarians there are new faces, there are also old faces, but it’s going to be collectively a different parliament than anything you have witnessed before and certainly the beginning of legitimate, representative and accountable institutions which has never happened in 21 years of Somali crisis," he said.
Earlier this month the Somali constituent assembly passed a new provisional constitution. Mahiga says the new parliament will vote for a new president in the coming days.