Skip to main content

Somalia to pick president, set up first stable govt. in 21 years

By Faith Karimi, CNN
updated 6:22 AM EDT, Mon September 10, 2012
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who has been in power since 2009, is seeking re-election.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who has been in power since 2009, is seeking re-election.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • A new parliament selected last month will hold a ballot to pick a president
  • The ballot comes after years of conflict between militants and government forces
  • "It has not been easy getting us to this point," U.N. envoy says

(CNN) -- Somali lawmakers are scheduled to choose the next president Monday, moving the nation a step closer to its first stable central government since the 1991 ouster of a dictator.

The new parliament, which was selected last month, will hold a ballot to choose the president from about two dozen candidates.

In a letter to lawmakers, the United Nations called for a credible leader who can propel the African nation toward peace.

"After two decades of civil war, a collapsed state and innumerable indignities to the proud Somali people, we are hours away from the election of a new president," said Augustine P. Mahiga, the U.N. envoy to the nation.

"The event that will completely end the transitional period and move us toward a phase of political and socio-economic transformation."

More: Obama moves to ban charcoal from Somalia

The scheduled vote is the latest in a series of political transitions in the nation.

In recent weeks, it has adopted a provisional constitution, held an inaugural meeting of its new parliament and appointed that body's speaker.

"It has not been easy getting us to this point," Mahiga said. "There have been moments when all seemed lost and we have sometimes been on the brink of despair."

Candidates include incumbent President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who has been in power since 2009, and his prime minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali.

Dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown 21 years ago, sparking years of warring militias and a transitional government that has remained shaky at best. Over the years, lawmakers have met in neighboring Kenya and Djibouti because of lack of security in Somalia.

More: Libyan weapons falling into Somali al Qaeda's hands

African Union and Somali troops are battling Al-Shabaab militants, an al Qaeda-linked group that controls part of the nation's south.

In recent months, the troops have driven the militants out of Mogadishu, and the capital is slowly trickling back to normalcy. Coalition forces are exerting control in more areas, but it is not secure enough to hold a nationwide vote.

The militant Islamist group has waged an insurgency against the weak transitional government since 2007.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 10:26 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Advocates say the exam includes unnecessarily invasive and irrelevant procedures -- like a so-called "two finger" test.
updated 7:09 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Supplies of food, clothing and fuel are running short in Damascus and people are going hungry as the civil war drags on.
updated 1:01 PM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
Supporters of Richard III want a reconstruction of his head to bring a human aspect to a leader portrayed as a murderous villain.
updated 10:48 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Robert Fowler spent 130 days held hostage by the same al Qaeda group that was behind the Algeria massacre. He shares his experience.
updated 12:07 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
As "We are the World" plays, a video shows what looks like a nuclear attack on the U.S. Jim Clancy reports on a bizarre video from North Korea.
The relationship is, once again, cold enough to make Obama's much-trumpeted "reset" in Russian-U.S. relations seem thoroughly off the rails.
Ten years on, what do you think the Iraq war has changed in you, and in your country? Send us your thoughts and experiences.
updated 7:15 AM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Musician Daniela Mercury has sold more than 12 million albums worldwide over a career span of nearly 30 years.
Photojournalist Alison Wright travelled the world to capture its many faces in her latest book, "Face to Face: Portraits of the Human Spirit."
updated 7:06 PM EST, Tue February 5, 2013
Europol claims 380 soccer matches, including top level ones, were fixed - as the scandal widens, CNN's Dan Rivers looks at how it's done.
updated 7:37 AM EST, Wed February 6, 2013
That galaxy far, far away is apparently bigger than first thought. The "Star Wars" franchise will get two spinoff movies, Disney announced.
updated 2:18 AM EST, Fri February 8, 2013
It's an essential part of any trip, an activity we all take part in. Yet almost none of us are any good at it. Souvenir buying is too often an obligatory slog.
ADVERTISEMENT