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Excitement as election fever grips Somali capital Mogadishu

Friday, August 17, 2012

MOGADISHU (Xinhua) -- As date for the presidential vote on Aug 20 draws ever more closer and political activities in the city intensifies with campaigning by the burgeoning number of presidential aspirants builds up, Mogadishu is visibly in election mood.

Thousands rally in streets of Mogadishu and football stadia for the key presidential candidates in the upcoming leadership contest for Somalia due in a week’s time. Jockeying for position in the upcoming parliament is also well underway.

The process of selecting the 275 members of the new Somali parliament, tasked on key clan elders, is currently underway and numerous caucuses are held on a daily bases in the hotels of Mogadishu by aspiring politicians seeking entry into the next parliament and by those hoping to run for the country’s top job.

Political power is shared in Somalia along clan lines in accordance with the agreed formula of 4.5 whereby the four main clans get a share each while an alliance of minority clans get half a share, an arrangement most agree should be abandoned in the next elections when it is hoped Somalia will be able to hold free popular elections.

Somali government sources say most of the clan elders have submitted list of the names of people to represent their respective clans in the new parliament to replace the bloated legislature of more than 550 members.

Deep disagreements over who should be in the list are reported among some clans who have so far failed to present their list to the Technical Selection Committee for final vetting process to weed out those deemed unqualified.

The forming of the new parliament is a key step in the process to move Somalia out of the protracted transitional period which comes to an end with the election of a new president by August 20.

Although submissions for presidential candidacy has not formally opened so far and no firm number of hopefuls is hard to come by, however reports indicate that the figure of contenders is over 50 presidential wannabes from the obscure high school dropouts to the political heavyweights.

Somalia top leaders, the incumbent President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohammed Ali and Speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adam have all announced their candidature for the top post.

Two former prime ministers are among a number of other key figures in Somalia who have thrown their hats into the political ring for the presidential contest.

Colorful supporters of presidential and parliamentary candidates line up the streets of Mogadishu to welcome the politicians as they return from abroad where most have spent much of their time.

Lines of vehicles loaded with jubilant supporters and dozens of scooters with photos of the candidates roams the streets of the capital during the election rallies which has recently became a familiar sight in the capital Mogadishu.

Somali government this week banned unauthorized political rallies in Mogadishu and the carrying of illegal weapons in the streets of the city after two people died and a number of others were wounded following a shooting during a rally welcoming the return of the populist former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a key contender in the presidential race.

Despite the ban on unsanctioned rallies, the election fever gripping the Somali capital for the first time, some say, in more than half a century continue to intensify as the country is looking forward to a new era of permanent government after a decade of transition and twenty years of anarchy.
Source: Xinhua


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