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Somalia’s newly elected parliament convened for the first time Saturday, a few days after lawmakers were sworn in following a long-delayed voting process and a political struggle between the president and the prime minister, Africa News reported.
Hundreds of lawmakers from both houses of parliament took their oaths of office Thursday, with dozens more to be selected and sworn in.
The elections were originally scheduled to be held more than a year ago – before President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s term expired in February 2021. But the incumbent leader tried to extend his four-year term by another two years, a move that sparked national and international criticism, according to the National, a United Arab Emirates publication.
Mohamed eventually relented but his disputes with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble continually delayed the elections and raised fears of further instability in Somalia, amid an ongoing Islamist insurgency and threat of famine.
In Somalia, elections follow an indirect model, with state legislatures and clan delegates selecting lawmakers, who then select the president.
The new parliament is now expected to pick a new president, even though the date has not been set. Even so, a new government must be created by May 17 in order for Somalia to continue receiving financial assistance from the International Monetary Fund.
Meanwhile, the Horn of Africa country is currently fighting a decades-long insurgency against al Qaeda-affiliate Al Shabab. Tens of thousands are also facing famine due to years of drought and rising food prices caused by the Russian-Ukrainian war.
According to the United Nations, millions of Somalians are at risk with 40 percent of the population currently experiencing acute food insecurity.