MOGADISHU, Somalia — Somalia has pushed back its upcoming presidential election by a month, sparking concern in the international community, which has called on all parties to implement the electoral calendar without delay.
This Horn of Africa country has been trying to rebuild after establishing its first functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and plunged the impoverished nation into chaos.
The chairman of the electoral commission, Omar Mohamed Abdulle, said the presidential election will now take place on Nov. 30, while parliamentary elections will be from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10.
Speaking before the U.N. Security Council on Tuesday, Somalia’s Foreign Minister Abdusalam H. Omer reassured diplomats of “the unwavering commitment of the federal government to holding a credible and inclusive electoral process in 2016.”
Omer blamed the delays on issues such as the need for presidents of Somali states to name candidates for the upper house, agreements with tribal elders in certain regions and security concerns in parts of the country where extremist group al-Shabab remains a threat.
“We are fully engaged in working to ensure that more Somalis than ever before can have a say in the future governance of their country,” Omer said.
Michael Keating, the U.N.’s special representative for Somalia, said that while the delay raises fears of possible political manipulation, he did not believe that to be the case.
“What is most critical at this point is that the new extension does not create political space for manipulation or disruption by spoilers. Rather the urgency and momentum must be maintained and the additional time used to ensure that the process is as transparent and credible as possible,” Keating told the Security Council.
Associated Press writer Michael Astor at the United Nations contributed.