By Edith Honan
MOGADISHU – The president of Somalia has said he is committed to holding elections on time next summer, before his current term runs out in August 2016, and wants a more inclusive voting process than in the past.
In Somalia’s last election in 2012, members of parliament were chosen by elders from their communities and those lawmakers then picked Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president.
Somalia has been struggling to rebuild after two decades of war and chaos and is still battling an Islamist insurgency.
Diplomats say delays in writing a new constitution, registering voters and other groundwork mean an earlier goal of holding a one-person-one-vote poll looks unrealistic.
“One thing I can assure, there will not be an extension, and the next government will be brought by Somali citizens,” Mohamud told a news conference in Mogadishu on Sunday. “We are not pursuing an extension of the mandate.
“Right now, what we are pursuing is, we want the next parliament to have more legitimacy,” he said.
He said it was possible “millions” of Somalis would participate.
U.N. envoy to Somalia Nick Kay told Reuters last week one option would be to expand the number of people choosing the president to include elders, civil society, women’s groups and others, but added it was it was up to Somalis to decide.