MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia has abandoned the idea of holding a popular vote for its planned 2016 elections, the presidency said on Wednesday.
In its last elections, in 2012, members of parliament were chosen by elders and then those lawmakers chose Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president. It was Somalia’s first vote since 1991, when warlords ousted president Mohamed Siad Barre, plunging the country into years of war and chaos.
Although diplomats have long said it was unlikely Somalia would meet its goal of holding a “one person, one vote” election due to infrastructure constraints and security fears, Mohamud’s comments confirmed the fact.
The government did not explain how it would make the election more democratic, which it has long promised.
“‘One person, one vote’ will be not possible in 2016,” Mohamud said, according to the Somali presidency Twitter account.
Earlier this week, Somali lawmakers and cabinet ministers said leaders would be chosen by regional leaders and “various members of society”, without elaborating on what that meant.
Mohamud has said he is committed to holding elections on time before his current term runs out in August 2016, and that, however the process is held, he hopes the next one will have “more legitimacy” than the current one.
Diplomats have said that delays in writing a new constitution, registering voters and other groundwork have meant the goal of holding a one person one vote poll is unrealistic.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Edith Honan; Editing by Alison Williams)