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Somali Leaders Agree on Framework for Elections

Political leaders in Somalia have agreed on a framework for holding elections this year, a move the international community hopes will stabilize the long-troubled country.

The framework, announced Thursday after two days of heated talks in Mogadishu, calls for creation of an upper house of parliament, with 54 seats allocated among Somalia's states.

The 275 seats in the existing lower house of parliament will be divvied up using the 4.5 formula, a power-sharing system among the country's four major clans and their smaller counterparts.

Thirty percent of all seats will be reserved for women. Lower house members will be elected by clan elders, while upper house representatives will be chosen by "caucuses of the regional assemblies" in the states.

FILE - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Nov. 17, 2015.
FILE - Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Nov. 17, 2015.

When formed, parliament will choose a president to succeed incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, in office since the government was created in 2012.

No dates for the elections were announced. The current government's mandate runs out in September.

In a statement, Somalia's international partners, including the United Nations, the United States, and European Union and the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM), welcomed the framework and commended Somali leaders for reaching a compromise. Two previous meetings to settle on an election model ended in failure.

The statement stressed that continued political progress is "indispensable" to ensuring that Somalia has a stable, secure future.

The country is attempting to recover from a quarter-century of lawlessness and war, and a continuing insurgency by Islamist militant group al-Shabab.

In an interview with VOA last July, President Mohamud said that "one person, one vote" elections would not be possible in Somalia under current circumstances.

The president insisted his government has made progress on the political, security and economic fronts, and said he will seek re-election.

Abdulaziz Osman and Mohamed Olad from VOA's Somali Service contributed to this report