Somalia Parliament Votes for New President

Posted September 10th, 2012 at 10:25 am (UTC-5)
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Somalia's parliament has started selecting a new president, the final step in a plan to create a more effective government and end two decades of chaos and instability.

The recently formed parliament began the secret ballot vote Monday at a police academy in the capital, Mogadishu.

There are 22 candidates vying for the top post, including the incumbent president and prime minister.

Two-hundred-sixty-two lawmakers are present for the vote. A candidate needs a two-thirds majority to win in the first round. Otherwise, the top four candidates advance to a second round.

If no one wins the second round, the top two candidates move to a third round, where a simple majority is needed to win.

The United Nations has described the election as “historic.” But critics say it will do little more than reshuffle key figures and positions.

The vote for a new president is part of a U.N.-backed plan to bring a stronger, more permanent government to a country that has not had an stable central government since 1991.

A U.N.-backed transitional government came to an end last month, eight years after it was created. The government never asserted authority, mainly because of infighting and Somalia's chronic violence.