Few signs of progress as Somalia's new MPs are sworn in

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Parliamentary placemen are set to pick president in campaign dogged by violence and corruption


Somalia swore in a new parliament but no new president yesterday as an international deadline for ending the troubled transition in the war-ravaged country passed with few signs of genuine progress.

A batch of 211 new MPs took their oath in the car park of Mogadishu airport, as the battered parliament building was considered too dangerous.

It is hoped their induction into parliament will restore some legitimacy to a central government beset by squabbling and corruption.

The roadmap for a new government, meant to build on recent progress in pushing Islamic militants al-Shabaab out of the capital, comes after 17 failed attempts since the collapse of the last central administration in 1991. The lawmakers must elect a new speaker and president in the coming days to cap what one UN diplomat said would be "the first serious political accomplishment in Somalia in 20 years".

Despite the candidates' posters plastered over the ruined seaside capital and the loudspeakers of campaign vehicles which have replaced the notorious battlewagons of the war years, this is a selection not an election. Ordinary Somalis are no closer to casting their ballot in a country that has not held an election since 1967.

Instead, the UN has overseen the selection of a cast of traditional elders who have chosen a new roster of MPs, who must now vote for one of the more than 60 presidential candidates. The leading contenders include all the main players in the tainted Transitional Federal Government – a body accused by a UN report in July of looting nearly two-thirds of its own budget.

The international community – with major donors like the UK and US to the fore – has said that if the process is seen to be "credible" then it could be the cue for a major stabilisation effort. But behind the scenes the same clan divisions, violence and corruption that have dogged Somali politics for years have dominated again. Fewer than half the elders chosen to represent Somalia's influential clans are genuine, a senior source claims, and presidential candidates have made bribes of between $3,000 and $25,000 to get their placemen on the list.

The technical committee tasked with vetting the elders' lists to remove past or present warlords, and those with no secondary education, has been dogged by threats. Several members have complained of receiving text messages telling them to "write their will". Augustine Mahiga, the UN's special representative to Somalia, said competition had been intense, with at least 5,000 people competing for 275 jobs: "Those with the means to intimidate have used them and those with money have sometimes used it."

Somalia descended into a clan-based civil war after the collapse of socialist dictator Siad Barre's government in 1991. The northern region of Somaliland and, to a lesser extent, its southern neighbour Puntland have managed to restore some order. But the central and southern regions have been a theatre first for clan warfare, then foreign occupation and finally the Islamic extremists of al-Shabaab.

Fit for office? The main candidates

Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed

Current President, 47, once called the "last best hope" by Hillary Clinton. Now seen as biggest obstacle to change.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed

The only recent Prime Minister credited with doing any-thing after he got the army and police paid on time. Now campaigns in Somali diaspora.

Yusuf Garaad

Former head of BBC Somali service gave up his home and job in London to go home and try to do something about the chaos he reported on.

Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden

Former parliament speaker and political survivor. Dogged by accusations of grand corruption. A manipulator of clan politics.

Start your day with The Independent, sign up for daily news emails
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
ebooksA year of political gossip, levity and intrigue from the sharpest pen in Westminster
Arts and Entertainment
a clockwork orange, stanley kubrick
The Tesco Hudl2: An exceptional Android tablet that's powerful, well-built and outstanding value

Life and Style
food + drinkAuthor DBC Pierre presents his guide to the morning after
Sarah Silverman (middle) with sister Reform Rabbi Susan Silverman (right) and sister actress Laura Silverman (left) at Jerusalem's Western Wall for feminist Hanuka candle-lighting ceremony
peopleControversial comedian stages pro-equality Hanukkah lighting during a protest at Jerusalem's Wailing Wall
Arts and Entertainment
The Bach Choir has been crowned the inaugural winner of Sky Arts’ show The Great Culture Quiz
arts + ents140-year-old choir declared winner of Sky Arts' 'The Great Culture Quiz'
Life and Style
food + drink
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Recruitment Genius: Finance Director

£65000 - £80000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Finance Director required to jo...

Recruitment Genius: Medico-Legal Assistant

£15000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a unique opportunity fo...

Ashdown Group: (PHP / Python) - Global Media firm

£50000 per annum + 26 days holiday,pension: Ashdown Group: A highly successful...

The Jenrick Group: Quality Inspector

£27000 per annum + pension + holidays: The Jenrick Group: A Quality Technician...

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans appeal: 'You look for someone who's an inspiration and try to be like them'

Homeless Veterans appeal

In 2010, Sgt Gary Jamieson stepped on an IED in Afghanistan and lost his legs and an arm. He reveals what, and who, helped him to make a remarkable recovery
Could cannabis oil reverse the effects of cancer?

Could cannabis oil reverse effects of cancer?

As a film following six patients receiving the controversial treatment is released, Kate Hilpern uncovers a very slippery issue
The Interview movie review: You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here

The Interview movie review

You can't see Seth Rogen and James Franco's Kim Jong Un assassination film, but you can read about it here
Serial mania has propelled podcasts into the cultural mainstream

How podcasts became mainstream

People have consumed gripping armchair investigation Serial with a relish typically reserved for box-set binges
Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up for hipster marketing companies

Jesus Christ has become an unlikely pin-up

Kevin Lee Light, aka "Jesus", is the newest client of creative agency Mother while rival agency Anomaly has launched Sexy Jesus, depicting the Messiah in a series of Athena-style poses
Rosetta space mission voted most important scientific breakthrough of 2014

A memorable year for science – if not for mice

The most important scientific breakthroughs of 2014
Christmas cocktails to make you merry: From eggnog to Brown Betty and Rum Bumpo

Christmas cocktails to make you merry

Mulled wine is an essential seasonal treat. But now drinkers are rediscovering other traditional festive tipples. Angela Clutton raises a glass to Christmas cocktails
5 best activity trackers

Fitness technology: 5 best activity trackers

Up the ante in your regimen and change the habits of a lifetime with this wearable tech
Paul Scholes column: It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves

Paul Scholes column

It's a little-known fact, but I have played one of the seven dwarves
Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Fifa's travelling circus once again steals limelight from real stars

Club World Cup kicked into the long grass by the continued farce surrounding Blatter, Garcia, Russia and Qatar
Frank Warren column: 2014 – boxing is back and winning new fans

Frank Warren: Boxing is back and winning new fans

2014 proves it's now one of sport's biggest hitters again
Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas