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UN envoy concerned over delays in Somalia parliament selection

The UN envoy to Somalia [BBC backgrounder; JURIST news archive] on Saturday expressed growing concern [press release] over the continuing delays in selecting the new parliamentarians who are scheduled to elect a Speaker and a Deputy Speaker on Tuesday as part of the "Roadmap for the End of Transition." The members of the new parliament will be selected by a group of 135 traditional Somali Elders with the help of a Technical Selection Committee. The envoy said that outstanding issues must be resolved by Sunday in order to avoid further delays and ensure enough time for preparation before the election on Tuesday. Augustine Mahiga, head of the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) [official website], said of the delays:

Last Monday, 20 August, the most qualified Parliament in the recent history of Somalia was inaugurated ... We are just a few critical steps away from fully ending the transitional period. We must all support this effort to ensure that the complete number of the new Somali lawmakers begin their vital work immediately.
The candidates for Speaker are scheduled to give speeches and presentations on Sunday for the parliament's consideration.

After decades of violence under the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) [CFR backgrounder], Somalia is taking key steps to move towards peace. Last week the UN welcomed the signing of Somalia's National Security and Stabilization Plan [JURIST report]. Two weeks ago the Somalia constituent assembly approved a draft of the new constitution [JURIST report] with over 96 percent of the 645 ballots cast in the special 825-member assembly after eight days of debate. The new constitution also has to be ratified by a national referendum. In June, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed [BBC profile] and the TFG signed a decree [JURIST report] establishing the legal framework by adopting a new constitution convened by the National Constituent Assembly (NCA). During the same month UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon [official profile] told officials at the Istanbul II Conference on Somalia [materials] that Somalia must take all efforts to smoothly transit [JURIST report] into a permanent government with a new constitution.

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