Somali Sultan urges government to hold free, fair elections

One of the Somali sultans on Saturday called on the Somali government to restore democratic rule through free and fair elections.

Somalia is expected to go to the polls this August to vote in presidential and parliamentary elections.

Sultan Mohamed Yussuf Afgaduud urged Somali government to conduct free and fair elections that can lead the nation to reach its ambition.

“We call on the country’s political leaders to work toward free, fair, and internationally recognized elections that restore democratic rule, and for free, fair, and independent elections to be held,” said Afgaduud.

The current President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the parliament were appointed by clan elders in 2012 with foreign backers promising full democracy in 2016, signalling an end to decades of chaos and instability.

But the decision to ditch plans for a full election highlights that progress on key issues — notably security and the threat from Al-Shabaab fighters — has not been as quick as hoped for.

Diplomats, who admitted long ago that the timetable for elections was too ambitious, have said that rather than holding a fully democratic poll, alternatives including relying on clan elders to select leaders may be considered.

The Western-backed government is propped up by a 22,000-strong African Union force, which fights alongside the Somali army against Al-Shabaab.

The group carries out regular attacks. The latest was earlier this month when a suicide car bomber killed at least 15 people at Ambassador Hotel which was popular with government officials and lawmakers.

Somalia, a long-troubled Horn of Africa country, had been in the grip of political violence since the outbreak of civil war in 1991.

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