Somali politicians meet to elect president

Top contenders include ARS leader Ahmed, current Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and ex-premier Ali Mohamed Gedi.

Somali politicians meet to elect president
Somalia's parliament met in neighbouring Djibouti on Sunday to discuss how to include some Islamists and pave the way for electing a new president after a drawn-out power struggle.

The meeting will announce on Monday the doubling of parliamentary seats from the current 275 to accommodate members of the pro-deal Islamist opposition Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS) and civil society groups.

Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the pro-deal Islamist leader from ARS, told the legislators it was time to join forces, oppose the perpetrators of violence and end the bloodshed.

"We have to take this historic opportunity," he told the opening of the talks. "There's no excuse for Somalis to kill each other."

The United Nations' envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, urged the politicians to make fast progress.

"This has to end," he told the legislators. "It's not going to be business as usual."

Some members of the government and the ARS are saying they need time to discuss how to bring in other opposition groups.

Some say that without first tackling these issues, an agreement in Djibouti would have little impact on the ground.

Other Islamist wing of the ARS based in Eritrea has so far rejected to take part in the process, nor have fighters in the group Al Shabaab.

"We have to discuss what approach we will take to bring in the other opposition," said member of parliament Mohamed Mohamud Guled. "Without them we won't be able to resolve this."

The first step is for the 275-member Somali parliament to amend the constitutional charter so up to 200 ARS members can join. The new assembly is then expected to elect a new president to replace Abdullahi Yusuf who quit in December.

Top contenders include ARS leader Ahmed, current Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and ex-premier Ali Mohamed Gedi.

Parliament will vote for president after the new legislators are sworn in, with either Hussein or Ahmed being the likely winners.

Agencies
Last Mod: 26 Ocak 2009, 11:11
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