Somalia is inching closer to getting a new president in spite of threats from the Islamist militant group al-Shabab.
Voting for parliamentarians who will in turn elect the country’s new president have been ongoing in stages across the country after several postponements.
An electoral college of 14,000 members are voting for 275 members of parliament, 30 percent of whom are expected to be women.
The head of the federal team overseeing the indirect elections, Omar Mohammed Abdulle explained that whereas in 2012 “only 135 elders were involved and electing the MPs”, the current method being used consists of 14,025 electoral college voting.
“The other thing that perhaps this electoral model is different from that of 2012 is that the election of the MPs took place in Mogadishu, while now the elections are taking place in the cities of the member states” he added.
In spite of recent attacks by al-Shabab, Abdulle said the electoral process “is taking place in a peaceful manner. So far no incident has taken place and it’s the first time in 47 years that Somalis are going to an election”.
The prevailing peace though does not mean an end to the threat from the militant group.
“The threats we are facing is, there is probably two ways. One way is by sending some assassins to kill innocent people with the pistols, you know in some area, that’s one. And the other threat is the complex attack and the suicide bombing that they are preparing. But we are working very hard to defeat them,” assured a Divisional Commander of the Somali police, General Mohammed Hassan Hamud.
He and his team are having support from the African Union force stationed in Somalia, AMISOM.
Universal adult suffrage (one man, one vote) is not expected in Somalia until 2020 when the country’s Independent Electoral Commission established in 2015 is expected to be ready to administer the polls.
This year’s polls are being administered by the 22-member Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) which is responsible for the oversight and overall planning of the electoral process.
The election of the president, originally scheduled for October 30, is now expected to come off on November 30. Members from both the lower and upper houses of parliament will elect the president.