April 25, 2011 / 8:29 AM / 8 years ago

Somalia govt postpones vote to 2012 amid security crisis

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia’s U.N.-backed government said on Sunday it planned to postpone elections to next year, saying it had to tackle insecurity first, further deepening its dispute with parliament.

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed arrives at the 16th African Union Summit, in Ethiopia's capital Addis Ababa, January 31, 2011. REUTERS/Thomas Mukoya

A 2009 deal envisioned the mandate of the Somali government and parliament would expire on August 20 this year, by which time they were supposed to have enacted a new constitution and held elections.

In March the transitional cabinet extended its term by a further year saying it wanted to ensure continuity in its fight against insurgents, joining the parliament in lengthening its mandate.

“The cabinet ministers have underlined that election is impossible because of insecurity,” a cabinet statement said. “This decision strengthens our previous decision that elections should be postponed by one year. This is to ensure that ongoing security and political developments (are completed).”

The U.N. has called for elections to be held to bring an end to the transitional phase, but it is unclear how such a vote could take place in the war-torn country.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s Transitional Federal Government is seen by the international community as the best hope of restoring order in the anarchic Horn of Africa country after two decades of armed conflict.

Ahmed has expressed interest in running for a second term.

On Saturday, the president and prime minister failed to convince parliament to approve extending the government’s term.

Often rated as a failed state, Somalia has lacked effective central government since the 1991 overthrow of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre. Somalia is embroiled in war with Islamist al Shabaab rebels who want to topple its Western-backed government, and piracy is rife off its lawless coast.

On Saturday the government said legislators failed to turn up for a meeting to resolve differences between the executive and the government and the parliament.

“It was not passed by the parliament and so it is illegal. The government can only propose,” lawmaker Ismail Ahmed said of the decision to postpone elections.

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