Somalia unable to hold full elections in 2016

Mogadishu – War-torn Somalia will not be able to hold full elections due next year, lawmakers said Tuesday, although it remained unclear whether some kind of voting process would still be held.

The current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and parliament were appointed by clan elders in 2012 with foreign backers promising full democracy in 2016, signalling an end to decades of chaos and instability.

But the decision to ditch plans for a full election highlights that progress on key issues — notably security and the threat from Al-Qaeda-linked Shebab militants — has not been as quick as hoped for.

“Parliament and the government have agreed… there cannot be one man, one vote elections in the country in 2016,” said Abdulahi Godah Bare, parliamentary committee chairman in charge of the election, citing the political and security situation in the country.

Diplomats, who admitted long ago that the timetable for elections was too ambitious, have said that rather than holding a fully democratic poll, alternatives including relying on clan elders to select leaders may be considered.

The Western-backed government is propped up by a 22,000-strong African Union force, which fights alongside the Somali army against the Shebab.

The Islamists carry out regular attacks. The latest was on Sunday, when a suicide truck bomber killed at least 13 people at a hotel which was popular with government officials and foreign visitors and housed three diplomatic missions.