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IGAD leaders call for free, fair polls in Somalia

MOGADISHU, Sept. 14, 2016 (Xinhua) — Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta (L), Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (C) and Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn attend the 28th IGAD Extra Ordinary Summit in Mogadishu, capital of Somalia, Sept. 13, 2016. (Xinhua/Faisal Isse)
MOGADISHU, Sept. 13 (Xinhua) — East African leaders ended their day-long summit in Mogadishu late Tuesday, calling for free and fair elections in Somalia scheduled from late September to October.
Leaders attending the special Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD) Summit endorsed Somalia’s 2016 electoral roadmap.
They included Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni, Ethiopian Prime Minister Hailemariam Desalegn and Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
“The leaders encouraged all Somalis to participate in the 2016 electoral process and hoped that free and fair elections are conducted within the time lines,” they said in a communique issued in Mogadishu.
They also welcomed the federal government of Somalia’s commitment to a credible, transparent and inclusive electoral mechanism toward a peaceful and democratic transition.
Somalia’s Federal Indirect Elections Implementation Team (FIEIT) last month released a timetable for the 2016 electoral process.
The timetable, which sets out the process to choose a new federal Parliament between Sept. 24 and Oct. 10, and president by Oct. 30, was endorsed by Somalia’s National Leadership Forum.
Some 51 constituency members will elect each MP, which means 14,025 citizens will take part the indirect elections. If this goes according to the plan, there is hope that the country will hold its first fair and free one-person, one-vote elections by 2020.
The regional leaders requested the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) to provide all necessary security to the electoral process.
The summit, the first IGAD Heads of State and Government meeting held in Mogadishu since the regional bloc was established in 1986, also urged regional countries to continue engaging Mogadishu proactively in order to sustain the stabilization efforts.
Meanwhile, South Sudan’s South Sudan First Vice-President Taban Deng has said his country is implementing the peace process agreed between President Salva Kiir and his former deputy Riek Machar.
Speaking at a press briefing after talks with his counterpart Cyril Ramaphosa in South Africa, Deng said they were implementing the peace process because “we have no other option than having peace.”
He said his government is very serious in implementing the peace process and there is no going back to any crisis or war.
“We have to settle so that people develop, so that people can have health services, people have roads and people are food secure,” Deng said.
Deng arrived in Cape Town earlier on Tuesday for talks with Ramaphosa on the peace process in South Sudan.
Ramaphosa said he and Deng had held “really good discussions” and are “confident that peace will finally be entrenched in South Sudan and they will now be moving to the development plan.”
“We can say now that the guns have gone silent and they are working together in cooperation with President Salva Kiir.
The government has become stable, the parliament has opened and we were very pleased and heartened to hear all these developments,” said Ramaphosa, who has been appointed by President Jacob Zuma as peace envoy to South Sudan.
Ramaphosa said they have decided to set up a task force to work on matters of mutual interest.


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