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Somalia names 202 members of new parliament

New parliamentarians named in Somali cabinet, president due to be elected Monday in the Horn of Africa nation that has been riddled with conflict for over two decades

AFP , Sunday 19 Aug 2012
Somalia
Somali soldier stands guard as Somalis gather in stadium in Somali capital Mogadishu, Monday(Photo: AP)
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Somalia on Saturday took a step toward electing a new president after a committee overseeing the war-torn country's transition to a replacement government named more than 200 parliamentarians.

The legislature is due to elect the next president on Monday under a UN-backed agreement, putting an end to eight years of Somalia's graft-riddled, Western-backed Transitional Federal Government, or TFG.

The Horn of Africa nation has lacked a stable central government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Siad Barre in 1991, which unleashed a bloody civil war and two decades of chaos.

But while the government until recently controlled only a few blocks of Mogadishu, African Union and other troops have since made key territorial gains in their fight against Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents.

With better security, members of the Somali diaspora have returned to invest in their battered homeland, and many now hope that a new government will help the war-torn country stabilise and recover.

In that process, a "technical selection committee"—charged with ratifying new MPs from a list chosen by a group of 135 traditional elders—published the names of the first of 275 new lawmakers late Friday.

"We have 202 members readied now and we are working on the reviewing of 40 others that were passed today (Saturday), and we hope the first parliament session will be held around (Monday)," said Halimo Yarey, who co-chairs the committee.

"The rest of the list is still pending because of inter-clan argument and other reasons related to a lack of fulfillment of the conditions," she told reporters.

The committee rejected some 70 nominees because they did not meet the requirements to serve in parliament. Lawmakers must be Somali citizens of sound mind, have a high school diploma and be free of ties to warlords or links to atrocities committed during the country's civil war.

The transition process is also laden with inter-clan tensions.

Under the agreement, each of Somalia's four main clan families—the Darod, Dir, Hawiye and Rahanweyn—named 30 members to the group of elders nominating the members of parliament. The remaining 15 were drawn from a coalition of minority groups.

The new parliament—comprising a 275-member lower house and a yet-to-be-launched upper house with a maximum of 54 members—is tasked with electing the president, the speaker and two deputy speakers.

It will be allowed to go ahead with voting Monday if a quorum of more than two-thirds of the lower house—184 members—is present.

The new president will then appoint a prime minister, who in turn will form a council of ministers.

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