Differences continues in NLF conference in Mogadishu

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Differences over key outstanding issues relating to the election process, between leaders from the Somali Federal government-term ended in September 10- and regional administrations have left crucial talks in the Somali capital of Mogadishu deadlocked, Idale News Online reports.

Somali leaders are convening the National Leadership Forum in Mogadishu, to ensure the completion of the electoral process in 2016, amid fears of further delays to the presidential election scheduled December 28.

Yesterday, the Somali leaders held meetings with the country’s electoral dispute body (IEDRM) to get further explanations on the 24 seats that were considered for nullification but later were reduced to 11 seats. The move sparked heavy criticism from the international community, who called IEDRM to present its reports on the basis of its decisions for the 24 cases.

Earlier, International community has warned IEDRM, if the seats that were viewed as most egregious cases were not included in the list of seats to be re-contested, it could undermine the credibility of the electoral process.

However, differences emerged between the Somali leaders in regard to the cases considered for nullification, as some urged to drop the cases, whereas others supported the decision to re-contest the seats, according to close sources.

The parliamentary elections in the regional states and particularly in Galmudug and Hirshabelle, were reported to be marred with vote rigging, favoritism and corruption, which included controversial seats that were won by outgoing Sports and Youth Minister and Abdulqadir Gaafow in Jowhar and Adado towns respectively.

Outgoing Sports and Youth Minister was accused of flaring up violence at the election venue that resulted in the injury of several delegates, whereas Gaafow who is brother to Abdualhi Gaafow, the Head of Somalia Intelligence Agency (NISA), were reported to abuse power and used NISA’s forces to arrest candidates and elders in Adado town.

On the other hand, close sources tell Idale News Online  that dispute still remains over the distribution of Upper House seats allocated to the Somaliland community and particularly for seats from Sool, Sanag and Ayn regions.

Another moot point has came up between the Somali leaders over the date of the presidential election. Continuous delay to sworn-in the new parliamentarians and the election of Speakers of the Lower and Upper Houses, indicate additional delays to the presidential election.

Ongoing political talks critical to finalize the election process, already overshadowed by disputes between Somali leaders, who are pushing efforts to maintain their interests in the process, as the conference is set to be the last before the presidential election.

This comes amid the slow progress to certify the new parliamentarians in the capital Mogadishu that was scheduled to conclude in December 15.

Mogadishu city, which is hosting the election of the new Speakers and new Somali President, has also witnessed surge in the terrorist attacks by Al Qaida linked Al Shabaab group in recent weeks.

The group vowed to disrupt the election process in Somalia, whereas the presidential candidates competing for the top office in the country are starting up their presidential campaign in the capital.

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