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New legislators sworn in Somalia

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Wednesday December 28, 2016 - 08:16:45 in Articles by Super Admin
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    New legislators sworn in Somalia

    Somalia has sworn in its new legislators to form the tenth Parliament, in what could kickstart the country's long road back to full democracy by 2020.

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Somalia has sworn in its new legislators to form the tenth Parliament, in what could kickstart the country's long road back to full democracy by 2020.

The ceremony, at a police academy heavily secured by African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom) forces and the Somali National Security Forces, means that the new MPs can now vote in for Speakers of the two Houses, and later a new President for the country.

The new Parliament is supposed to have 275 MPs for the Lower House and 72 Senators for the Upper House. But the inauguration on Tuesday went on despite some of the regions still yet to complete the elections.

Mozambican diplomat Francisco Madeira, who heads Amisom, said the swearing-in ceremony was a milestone for a country plagued with violence for more than two decades.

"The inauguration of the new Parliament today is not only symbolic of the progress that Somalia is making, but also attests to what is achievable when people choose unity in diversity, agree to compromise for the common good and with determination agree to pull together to fight the enemies of peace and stability in Somalia,” Mr Madeira said in a statement on Tuesday afternoon.

GRADUAL WITHDRAWAL

Amisom, the 22,000-strong force that also includes the Kenya Defence Forces, had signalled gradual withdrawal from Somalia starting end of 2017 to allow Somalia’s security forces to take over by 2020.

But that programme was dependent on whether Somalis could hold credible elections and start rebuilding their country.

In January, seven candidates including incumbent Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will fight it out to be next President. The new leader is to be elected by the new legislators.

The elections of Somali legislators, as well as the new President had been postponed thrice by the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team. The new Parliament already had 63 female MPs with 19 seats yet to be decided in Somaliland and Banadir regions.

Once complete, the new legislature signals progress from the one sworn in, in August 2012, when 275 MPs of the Lower House were selected by a special committee of clan elders. Somalia had delayed formation of the Upper House citing financial constraints.

Mr Madeira said the formula used in these elections was an acceptable improvement from the past and signals the country’s readiness to return to universal suffrage.

"The African Union is pleased to play a critical role in Somalia’s journey to democracy,” said Ambassador Madeira,’ he said.

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