By PNA / Xinhua and U.S. News Agency / Asian
Somali parliamentarians are expected to cast their votes to choose a new president for the country Monday, in a historic move to set up a stable country for the first time in more than 20 years.
The 275-member parliament, inaugurated late last month, will choose from 25 candidates vying for the country’s leadership for the next four years.
Among the key favorite candidates are the incumbent president sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, outgoing Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdulahi Farmajo as well as three academics Ahmed Ismail Samatar, Abdurrahman Badiyow and Hassan Sheikh Mohamaoud.
The presidential candidates were given 20 minutes each Friday and Saturday to present to parliament their programs for leading the war torn country for the next four years.
Former speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adam withdrew from the race after a candidates hailing from same clan, Mohamed Osman Jawari, won the contest for the speaker of parliament.
Somalia’s political power-sharing arrangement bars people from the same major clans to run for the country’s top posts including the presidency, Speaker of parliament, Prime Minister and the Chief Justice.
Former Speaker Sharif Hassan Sunday announced he was backing the candidacy of incumbent president sheikh Sharif sheikh Ahmed, boosting the chances of the moderate Islamist leader, analysts said.
The two men have been rivals after each announced his candidature for the presidency and their alliance has unsettled the political equation in Somalia with the leaders of semi- autonomous region of Puntland to threaten to breakaway if the alliance succeeds in coming to power.
Newly-elected speaker of parliament Mohamed Jawari promised the election will be “free, fair and transparent” with huge media presence and members of Somalia’s international partners as observers of the election excise.
United Nations envoy Augustine Mahiga hailed Somalia’s parliament as “the most qualified” legislature with “approximately 60 percent of the Members of Parliament hold university degrees”.
The UN envoy described the election of Somali president by the new parliament as a milestone calling on legislators to ensure “selecting the best candidate as the leader for their nation”.