Somalia’s political leaders say they have agreed to hold presidential polls on Dec. 28 after three delays and amid allegations of bribery, fraud and voter intimidation.Presidential polls had been pushed back to Nov. 30, but the electoral commission last month announced they would be in December instead. In a statement issued after political stakeholders met late Thursday, Somali leaders said they expected a new parliament to elect a speaker on Dec. 22 before parliament members elect a president Dec. 28.
The delays reflect the challenges of holding elections in this Horn of Africa nation riven by clan rivalries and threatened by Islamic extremists, al-Shabab, opposed to Western-style democracy. Somalia’s president is not elected by popular vote. Some 14,000 delegates selected by their clans elect parliament members, who elect the president.Officials have said voting for members of the upper house is almost complete, while that for the lower house is just past the halfway mark.Somalia has been trying to rebuild after recently establishing its first functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and plunged the impoverished nation into chaos.