Somalia's new parliament comes in to full in-tray By ABDULKADIR KHALIF in Mogadishu | Tuesday, August 21 2012 at 13:32
Somalia's new Federal Parliament gets down to work with a full in tray after 225 new legislators were sworn in Monday, visibly uplifting the mood of a battle-weary country.
They would be joined by 50 others who are still being vetted in a system that recognised the difficulty of holding a universal vote due to security implications.
Their first task will be to elect a substantial speaker and deputies before they settle down to the highly-anticipated pick of a new President from over 60 hopefuls.
Gen (rtd) Muse Hassan, 72, was selected as acting speaker of the new institution that replaces the 550-member Transitional Federal Parliament that has existed since 2004.
"As the eldest MP, I have been chosen to temporarily lead the parliament,” said Gen Hassan, citing Article 65 of the country's newly adopted Provisional Constitution.
He said that all those aspiring to become speakers should submit their applications by August 25.
The next step for the new parliament will be to select an election committee with the next session set for Tuesday at police buildings in north Mogadishu.
The swearing in ceremony was held at the national airport which is next to an AU peacekeepers' base due to security concerns.
The legislators have been selected by 135 traditional clan elders in a process that had been hit by vested interests and infighting, in part blamed for the delay in choosing the new leader.
A new President was to have been sworn in by August 20 at the expiry of the transitional federal government's term.
The new parliament would be in place for four years, according to a roadmap agreed by the main political groupings in Somalia in 2011, and a series of other agreements outlining benchmarks and milestones endorsed by the UN, African Union and sub-regional bloc IGAD.
Outgoing TFG President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who is up for re-election, said he hoped the new parliament would spearhead good governance and optimism for the country.
"Somalia's government is no longer in a transition,” he said.
The identification and listing of the new MPs has attracted public attention throughout the country, especially the capital where it has been taken as a big step towards extricating the country from instability visited on it following the collapse of Siad Barre's central government in 1991.
Ms Zeinab Mohamed Amer, a long term legislator, expressed a rejuvenated optimism in the new body. "I have been an MP ever since the first Transitional National Parliament (assembled at Arta town in August 2000) and then in the Transitional Federal Parliament (formed in August 2004),” said Ms Amer.
"It is my best expectation that this Federal Parliament is going to help Somalia regain its full statehood."
A reporter at Radiyo Muqdisho, the state-run broadcaster, summed up the mood at the new Federal Parliament: “People here feel like being in a country gaining independence."
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