A parliamentary committee announced on Thursday that Somali MPs would choose the country’s new president on May 15, the final stage in a drawn-out election process that has been hampered by a dispute within the outgoing administration.
The appointment of a president is a critical step in forming a new government, which must be in place by May 17 in order for Somalia to continue receiving budget assistance from the International Monetary Fund, which it needs to pay essential bills.
Since 1991, the Horn of Africa country has been torn apart by civil conflict, with the Islamist organization al Shabaab, which is connected to al Qaeda, fighting to reconstruct its institutions.
The central government or allied troops dominate Mogadishu and most of the major towns, while al Shabaab controls large swaths of the countryside, particularly in central Somalia.
Al Shabaab bombings and a disagreement between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble threw the electoral process into disarray.
The president attempted to extend his four-year term by two years last year, but parliament blocked him.
Clan elders pick the 275 members of the lower house, who then choose the president, according to Somalia‘s indirect voting system. There are anticipated to be more than a dozen contenders competing.
Somalia’s communications ministry warned police on Thursday that a group attempting to organize pre-election presidential debates had been denied a broadcast license.