Somalia Begins Next Stage of Long-Delayed Elections

Somalia has begun electing lawmakers for its lower house of parliament, the next phase in a long-delayed and turbulent process toward a presidential vote that has sometimes turned violent.

The first two lawmakers for the next 275-member lower house of national parliament were elected at a voting ceremony in the capital Mogadishu amid heavy security.

Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said in a brief statement that: “I am delighted that today we have officially started the election of the Somali lower house,”

Somalia has not held a one-man-one-vote election in 50 years. Monday’s ballot followed a complex indirect model used in the past to choose new leaders in the troubled Horn of Africa country.

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Nearly 30,000 clan delegates are assigned to choose the 275 MPs for the lower house, while Somalia’s five state legislatures elect senators for the 54-member upper house.

Once elected and sworn in, both houses of parliament then vote for the next president.

The multi-stage election has been delayed more than a year by political feuds at the highest levels of government.

In April, pro-government and opposition fighters opened fire in the streets of Mogadishu after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed extended his term in office without holding fresh elections.

The constitutional crisis was only defused when President Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmajo, reversed the term extension and his prime minister, Roble, brokered a timetable to a vote.

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