[dehai-news] (Reuters): Somali parliament may delay presidential election

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From: Berhane Habtemariam (Berhane.Habtemariam@gmx.de)
Date: Mon Jan 26 2009 - 08:38:45 EST

Somali parliament may delay presidential election

Mon Jan 26, 2009 6:43am GMT

By David Clarke

DJIBOUTI, Jan 26 (Reuters) - Somalia's parliament is expected to vote on a
motion on Monday to delay the election of a president to allow more time for
talks on enlarging the assembly, legislators said.

A Western-backed interim government has failed to establish stability in a
country where more than 16,000 civilians have been killed in the past two
years, Islamist rebels are attacking the capital and the chaos onshore has
fuelled rampant piracy.

The international community has been urging feuding Somalis to settle their
political differences, expand the parliament to include the moderate
Islamist opposition and elect a new president during talks in neighbouring
Djibouti this week.

Under the constitutional charter, a new Somali president should be chosen by
parliament within 30 days of the resignation of former President Abdullahi
Yusuf, who quit on Dec. 29.

"We have put forward a motion which states the time of the elections should
be extended," said member of parliament Ahmed Issa Awale, adding there would
be a vote on Monday.

Parliamentarians meeting in Djibouti under a U.N.-hosted reconciliation
process said they were looking for an extension of seven to 10 days.

Members of the opposition Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia (ARS),
which is expecting to join a new unity government, said they would like the
presidential election to be postponed by a few weeks.

The international community hopes a more inclusive Somali administration
will be able to reach out to armed groups who are still fighting the interim
government and targeting African Union peacekeepers in the capital

The more militant Islamist wing of the ARS, based in Eritrea, has so far
refused to take part in the peace process. So have fighters in the hardline
Islamist group Al Shabaab, who want to impose their strict version of
Islamic law in Somalia.

Both members of parliament and ARS members said it would make more sense to
broaden the discussions to include others.

"We are for the reconciliation, but it depends on who we are going to
reconcile," said member of parliament Asha Ahmed Abdullah, adding that the
aim should be to stop the fighting.

Parliamentarians also said there was debate over how many seats should be
given to the ARS if the parliament doubles as expected from 275 members now.
At the moment, the ARS is expecting to get 200 members of parliament.
(Additional reporting by Abdiaziz Hassan)

C Thomson Reuters 2009 All rights reserved


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