Somalia to Elect President amid Security, Drought Woes

TEHRAN (Tasnim) - Somalia is to hold its presidential election Wednesday after numerous delays, with ongoing security concerns and warnings of famine topping the agenda for the new administration.

Somalia to Elect President amid Security, Drought Woes

Somalian President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is seeking re-election against 22 other candidates.

The troubled Horn of Africa nation, which has not had an effective central government in three decades, had been promised a one-person, one-vote election in 2016.

However political infighting and insecurity, mainly due to Al-Qaeda linked Shabaab militants who control swathes of countryside and strike at will in Mogadishu, saw the plan ditched for a limited vote running months behind schedule.

The presidential election had been due to take place in August, four years after the previous vote in which just 135 clan elders chose MPs who then voted for the country's leader.

Elections instead began in October with an electoral college system that excluded ordinary citizens and instead involved 14,025 delegates voting for candidates for both parliament and a new upper house.

The elections were marred by widespread allegations of vote-buying and intimidation.

In a report on Tuesday, Somalia-based anti-corruption watchdog Marqaati said the elections "were rife with corruption". Repeated delays meant the new lawmakers were only sworn in in December.

The tortuous process has left some disillusioned. "I really don't care who becomes president. We just need to be free to attend to our business," said Qoje Siyad, a Mogadishu day laborer.

"This thing is taking too long," said housewife Samiya Abdulkadir. "People will be relieved to see an end to this drama."

While falling well short of the election that was promised, the process is more democratic than in the past and is seen as a step towards universal suffrage, now hoped for in 2020.

Wednesday's voting will see members of the 275-seat parliament and 54 senators cast ballots inside a hangar within the heavily-guarded airport.

No candidate is expected to get the two-thirds majority needed for a first-round win, with two further rounds permitted before a winner is declared, AFP reported.

In the absence of political parties, clan remains the organizing principle of Somali politics.

All 23 candidates are men after the only declared female candidates dropped out. And each one has paid the $30,000 (28,000-euro) registration fee although few have any serious chance of winning.

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