Somalia says preparation for presidential polls complete

Somalia’s electoral committee said preparations for Wednesday’s presidential polls which has been postponed four times, are complete and the election will take place as scheduled.

Chairperson of the 17-member Presidential Election Committee Abdirahman Beileh said on Sunday night the elections will take place on Feb. 8 and gave an undertaking that the elections will be free and fair.

“The president is elected by the public and so we are representatives of the public. We are listening to them, we have given a commitment that we will do our best, to select the best on their behalf,” Beileh said in a statement issued in Mogadishu.

“I want to assure the Somali people that we will be true to our commitment to our country, our commitment to them and the nation in general, that we will do our best to select the best in the group,” he said.

The Wednesday’s elections will draw curtains on an electoral process that began in October 2016 after months of delay in a tortuous process.

Somalia’s newly inaugurated Parliament comprising of 275 lower house seats and 54-member senate will vote for the president in a secret ballot.

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The newly elected president will be installed immediately after the announcement of the final results.

Beileh said strict procedures on balloting have also been put in place, to minimize risks of rigging. Beileh said to avoid incidences of ballot stuffing, the ballot papers will be printed inside the voting hall, shortly before the onset of balloting.

“We planned taking into consideration all factors that can be expected and therefore we have no reason to doubt that on the eighth, toward the end of day, we will have a president,” he said.

Some 23 presidential candidates are eyeing the hotly contested seat, as the election committee puts in place strict rules to govern the process and ensure transparency. One of the candidates pulled out on Sunday, citing a crowded process.

“Everybody is determined that this process is carried out in a manner in line with the international rules and regulations. It will be credible, it will be transparent. I have absolutely no reason to believe otherwise,” Beileh said.


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