Campaigning has begun in Somalia for the election of a president, an important step for the troubled nation in the Horn of Africa that has lacked a stable central government for more than 20 years. Campaign posters can be seen in the capital Mogadishu hanging on buildings, along main roads and even on cars -- a hopeful sign of emerging democracy.
A parliament selected by the country’s traditional elders has been convened, which will vote on a president and a speaker when the full complement of 275 lawmakers has been filled. That process will build on the work, now completed, of the transitional federal government established in 2004 with a mandate to restore democratic rule.
The United States welcomes the convening of Somalia’s new federal parliament, a milestone in the nation’s political transition. We commend the people of Somalia for their hard work and unwavering commitment to a better future, and urge those remaining communities that have not yet nominated their members of parliament to do so with urgency. It is hoped that all communities will work to increase the participation of women in the legislature and other leading national institutions, as called for in the provisional constitution that the nation’s elders approved earlier this month.
Going forward, the parliament must adopt rules of procedure and elect a president and speaker quickly to maintain the political progress made so far. Somali leaders have a responsibility to fulfill their obligations to complete the transition to democratic rule. Any attempt to impede this work will not be tolerated. All parties must work in a fair and transparent manner, and will be held accountable for failing to do so.
The United States will continue to work with the international community, regional stakeholders and the Somali people to promote transparency, good governance and development to achieve a better future for this important nation.