Somalia’s expanded parliament is to be created after which an election of the president, to replace Abdullahi Yusuf who resigned late last year, will be conducted on 26 January in Djibouti, officials have announced.
The Somali leaders, who met over the weekend at a meeting chaired by African Union’s Commissioner for Peace and Security Ramtane Lamamra, also affirmed that the security situation in the volatile capital, Mogadishu, was rapidly improving.
The creation of an enlarged Somali parliament, in line with the Djibouti accord of 26 October 2008 and a separate deal on the formation of a joint cabinet bringing on board loyalists of moderate Islamist groups, will take place from 20 January.
The Somali faction leaders agreed that the formation of the enlarged parliament, that will bring on board 75 additional legislators, mainly members of the opposition, would be the first step towards the presidential election on 26 January.
The meeting, to plan the country’s troops buildup following the withdrawal of the Ethiopian troops from the Horn of African nation, also reviewed the political and security situation in the country and agreed on the need to have senior state officials appointed.
The AU said that it met the Somali officials and the East African troops contributing states to focus attention on the situation in the country after the resignation of the president.
Somalia has been without a stable government for the past 17 years.
Efforts to erect the Somali Transitional Federal Government (TFG) have failed as a result of inter-tribal fighting among the various clans that are jostling for central control.
Former President Yusuf, who tried to lead the TFG unsuccessfully for four years, resigned on 29 December, blaming the international community for failing to support his government’s efforts to set up a central authority in the country.
The former leader handed in his resignation to the Speaker of Parliament, Sheikh Aden Madobe, and headed to his hometown in Puntland, where local clan elders immediately offered him a seat as a senior clan elder.
At the Addis talks, attended by Ugandan Defence Minister Crispus Kiyonga and Burundi’s Defence Minister Gen. Germain Niyoyankana, the Somali politicians told the ministers that significant progress had been made in forming the expanded parliament.
Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Abdala Boss Ahmed, who is also the country’s Defence Minister, briefed the AUC on the progress the government had made towards the formation of the expanded parliament and on plans to enhance security in the country.
A member of the Somali opposition, Mohamed Abdi Mohamed, also attended the talks. The AU’s recognition of the opposition is a sign that the power-sharing talks in Somalia are at advanced stages.
An AU statement issued after the meeting said the Somali politicians gave the officials attending the meeting a tight time frame for the formation of the expanded parliament and the election of the key officials of the expanded parliament.
The newly-elected Somali president will immediately appoint a Prime Minister, who would in turn identify members of his cabinet.
The TFG and the opposition ARS will then form a joint national security panel to monitor a ceasefire agreement on both sides.