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Somalia electoral Implementation Team warns of likely polls delay

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somalia on Thursday hinted at a delay of elections following what the Federal electoral body termed as financial challenges and political concerns.

The Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) said in a statement issued in Mogadishu that it was convening a meeting Friday with heads of the state’s electoral teams to find a solution to the challenges even as the country prepares for elections Saturday.

The electoral body announced August the elections for the Lower House will start Sept. 24 through to Oct. 10 while that of the Upper House will be take a day to conclude on September 25.

But the FIEIT said it was also facing what it termed as political and security challenges without elaborating. It indicated the elders who are tasked with selecting the delegates had also not submitted their final lists, barely two days to the polls.

"To deal with these challenges, we are convening a meeting with the heads of the state level electoral implementation teams on Friday," said FIEIT.

The elections budget is supposed to be shared between the Somalia and the international community with the latter contributing 60 percent while Somalia clears the rest.

The announcement comes amid affirmation by the international community that the elections must be held without delay.

A communique from a high level meeting on Somalia on the sidelines of the UN General Assembly Wednesday called on Somalia to ensure the polls are elected without delay.

"The international community highlights the importance of the upcoming electoral process, as a crucial stepping stone toward one person one vote elections in 2020," the international partners for Somalia said.

"We reiterate the need to keep to the timeline and for a peaceful, credible and transparent process, in a climate of respect for human rights and fundamental freedoms," they added.


African Union deploys technical electoral support team in Somalia

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The Africa Union has deployed a short-term technical electoral support team ahead of the electoral process in Somalia to back up the AU mission.

A statement from the AU Commission received in Mogadishu on Saturday said the team will also reinforce AMISOM’s Political Unit and will be in Somalia until Nov. 5.

The two experts on the team, Hope Mary Nsangi from Uganda and Jespa Ajereboh Tichock from Cameroon, will be tasked with duties including collection of information on the implementation of the 2016 limited franchise electoral process agreed upon by Somali stakeholders.

"Their role will include contribution to the identification and documentation of lessons learnt from the electoral process toward the realization of the 2020 political road map," the statement said.

The team will also be tasked with liaison and coordination with other international partners supporting Somalia’s electoral process (including the European Union, the Union Nations; the Arab League and Organization of Islamic Cooperation).

The deployment follows a Pre-election Assessment Mission conducted by the African Union Commission in July to identify the best form of technical assistance to support elections in Somalia.

The deployment of the AU Expert Team follows a decision at the African Union Peace and Security Council meeting held in Addis Ababa on Sept. 6 which requested the AUC to expedite the deployment of technical experts and provide other relevant forms of support to AMISOM in order to assist and reinforce the mission’s capacity ahead of the elections.

AMISOM Political Affairs Officer Walters Samah said the AU mission is pleased to have received this direct support from the headquarters, noting that their deployment to Somalia is a further demonstration of AU’s long term commitment to the country.

Somalia security bars reporters from airport ahead of polls

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Journalists in Somalia will not be able to cover any events at the Mogadishu airport for the next two months, aviation authorities said Thursday.

In a statement, Aden Adde Airport director of security Abdi Ashkir Jama said the decision was made out of security concerns.

Coming ahead of the polls set to start Saturday, the decree warns that violators may face prosecution, court fines or a total ban of reporting from any airport in the country.

The journalists union NUSOJ has however castigated the move as damaging the interests of the media and the public.

"The airport is a major news maker especially now when most candidates for the upcoming elections are trooping into the country.

"This is disappointing and regrettable," NUSOJ secretary general Mohamed Moalim said in a statement.

Last week, the Interior Ministry ordered political parties and groupings to cease any campaigns in the city citing security concerns.

Militant group Al-Shabaab has threatened to disrupt the polls and called on its members to attack elders who will be participating in the elections.

Parliamentary elections are set to begin on Saturday and will run through to Oct. 10. A new president will be elected by Oct. 30.


Somalia launches campaign to promote women representation in parliament

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has launched a national campaign for women in an effort to achieve a 30 percent quota of seats in both houses of the country’s next federal parliament.

Mohamud, who presided over the launch of the "All Women’s Campaign", said the move will help women shape the destiny of the Horn of Africa nation.

"We want a free and fair electoral process that earns the confidence and acceptance of the public.

"We want the public to be confident that they are represented by leaders of their choice," said Mohamud in a statement issued on Friday.

"Our country has unique challenges.

"We are not yet perfect, but we are on the right course to perfection," Mohamud said, adding that the campaign is aimed at realizing the 30-percent quota that guarantees women’s seats are reserved in parliament.

Mohamud noted that 81 or more members in the next parliament will be women.

The campaign will mobilize women to register for elective positions and use lobbyists to sensitize clan elders on the critical role women play in decision-making.

In her remarks, Zahra Mohamed Ali Samatar, the Federal Minister of Women and Human Rights Development, urged women to mobilize more female candidates to run for parliamentary seats.

"In the coming years, women will be able to vie for the seat of Speaker of Parliament.

"The joy on our faces is a testimony to our satisfaction with the achievements made and a victory for the Somali women," Samatar said.

Somalia is poised to begin the 2016 electoral process, which will choose members of a new federal parliament who will in turn vote for presidential candidates in late October.

Children in IDP camps in Somalia hardest hit by food crisis

NAIROBI (Xinhua) -- The United Nations announced this week that five million Somalis do not have enough food, with 1.1 million of these being internally displaced persons (IDPs) who are housed in various camps across the country.

It also reveals that the 5 million people include over 300,000 children under five who are acutely malnourished, and among them, more than 50,000 are severely malnourished.

Doctor Lul Mohamud Mohamed, who is a medical practitioner in the largest public hospital in Somalia, Banaadir Hospital, warned that the situation is getting worse for children who live in IDP camp.

Mohamed noted that the impact of the food crisis is seriously impeding the growth and development of children while at the same time denying them the chance to education.

"We are recording deaths and serious medical conditions as a result of malnutrition among children from displaced people’s camps.

For example, out of 600 children the hospital receives monthly, 25 percent of these are malnourished," Mohamed told Xinhua Thursday.

She said most of the children under the age of five are mostly affected, noting there was urgent need to protect the children from long-term conditions which could affect them much more in life.

Mohamed, who heads the children’s department at the hospital, said lack of food denies most children access to education since most of them have to look for food at the expense of education.

A large number of children in the IDP camps do not attend school and are forced to work alongside their parents, a development which risks the lives of the children more, Mohamed added.

Maryam Kusow, a mother of five in one of the camps in Mogadishu, told Xinhua that the risk of her children facing medical conditions which can affect them into adulthood is worrying.

"My husband died three years ago while working as a porter in a bomb explosion.

"I am forced to bring up my children on my own. We used to receive sufficient food rations from aid agencies in the past, but now I am afraid my children are developing some medical conditions because of malnutrition," said Kusow.

The story is the same for Amina Abukar who lives with her nine children in a makeshift camp in Mogadishu.

"We depend on my daughter who works as a house maid in the city.

"My children do not go to school as I cannot afford to pay for their school fees," said the mother.




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