New Somali Parliament to Hold First Session

Posted August 20th, 2012 at 8:00 am (UTC-5)
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Somalia's new parliament begins its work Monday, as the country moves ahead with a plan to establish a stable, permanent government.

A selection committee has named only 225 lawmakers for the 275-seat body, but officials say that is enough for the parliament to convene.

In an interview with VOA , Constitution and Reconciliation Minister Abirahman Hosh Jibril says the new lawmakers will elect a speaker and deputies by August 27 and a new Somali president by early September.

The country will miss a Monday deadline to elect a new speaker and president under a U.N.-backed roadmap to end an eight-year transitional government.

However, U.N. officials and international partners issued a hopeful statement Sunday, saying Somalia has an “unprecedented opportunity for greater peace and stability.”

Last month, an 825-member Constituent Assembly passed a new provisional constitution.

Somalia has endured 20 years of chaos and conflict since warlords overthrew President Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991.

The Transitional Federal Government, established in 2004, has been unable to assert power and bring stability to the fractured country because of chronic infighting.

Security has improved in the capital, Mogadishu, since an African Union force drove out militant group al-Shabab last year.

But the group still carries out periodic attacks in the city. The new parliament is holding its first meeting at the Mogadishu airport under the protection of African Union troops.