Somalia swears in MPs amid concerns over electoral process

Parliamentarians taking their oath during an inauguration ceremony for members of Somalia’s Upper House and the Lower House in Mogadishu on December 27, 2016

283 Members of Parliament have taken their oaths of office on Tuesday to represent the people of Somalia in the country’s tenth parliament.

41 MPs elected to senatorial seats in the Upper House and 242 in the Lower House took their oaths at the General Kahiye Police Academy presided over by outgoing Speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman Jawari.

Meanwhile, elections for the two houses are not over after an increase in the number of seats in the Upper House of parliament from 54 to 72 in contravention of the country’s constitution.

The United Nations, African Union, European Union and international partners have expressed concern over the decision by Somalia’s National Leadership Forum (NLF) to add 18 seats to the Upper House.

“Any further expansion of the Upper House should only be contemplated after the presidential vote has been held in the new federal parliament and implemented through a proper constitutional process,” they advised in a joint statement on Tuesday.

The international bodies also decried the statement by the NLF revoking all disqualifications of candidates made by the country’s electoral bodies for allegedly committing abuses and malpractices.

“It also contravenes the Federal Government’s solemn commitment to respect the rule of law … It will also undermine the electoral code of conduct signed by all parliamentary candidates in the spirit of leveling the playing field and ensuring the delivery of a credible process,” they warned.

The international bodies advised that the elections in disputed areas be re-run and the federal parliament should issue a timeline as soon as possible for the completion of the process in order to elect the Speakers and Deputy Speakers and the Federal President.

“This timeline should be strictly enforced to avoid yet another postponement in an electoral process that was supposed to have finished earlier this year,” the statement said.

“More delays and a failure to hold accountable those parties who have committed serious abuses and malpractices will compromise the international community’s ability and willingness to engage with Somalia’s next federal government.” The statement added.

Somalia’s presidential election scheduled for December 28 has once again been postponed.

According to the electoral commission, a total of 293 MPs had been elected so far.

Members of the two houses of parliament will elect the president.

 

Zainab Sa’id