Q&A: Somalia presidential election

A woman holds up election campaign posters of Somalia"s President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed in Mogadishu, September 9, 2012.
Image caption The security situation was named as the top priority by many of the candidates

Somali MPs meeting in Mogadishu on 10 September are voting for a new president. It will be the first time since the overthrow by warlords of President Said Barre that a new leader has been chosen inside the country.

How is the president selected?

Voting is by secret ballot of all MPs, but not all of the 275 seats of the new parliament have been filled as some of the nominees have been rejected for various reasons. However the number of MPs that have been sworn in exceeds the minimum required for the vote of 202.

Prior to the day of the vote, each candidate was given the opportunity to address MPs for 20 minutes to make their claim for the presidency. The security situation in the country was a top priority for many of the candidates.

A candidate needs to get two-thirds of the vote to win outright. If not, the top four candidates proceed to a second round. A possible third round will see be a run-off between the top two contenders. Each MP has one vote and the winner is selected by a simple majority.

Why the delay in voting?

The mandate of the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government of Somalia (TFG) ended on 20 August after eight years and it was hoped to have had the new government in place by then, but wrangling between the warlords and factions over the composition of parliament has delayed this.

This is the final stage of a UN-backed process to provide the country with an effective government and pressure from the international community and the UN - which has been funding the interim government - is on the Somali MPs to set up the new administration sooner rather than later.

How were the MPs selected?

Somalia has a clan system. Potential MPs are selected by traditional elders, but must fulfil selection requirements, which include citizenship, age, education, previous political background and human rights record.

The High Court has recently ruled that nine prospective MPs should be sworn in despite claims that some are former warlords and have questionable human rights records.

Who is in charge of the vote?

A 16-member parliamentary electoral committee chaired by former interim Speaker Moussa Hassan Abdille was formed on 30 August to oversee election preparations.

It has representatives from the various clans and vetted all of the candidate applications. The speaker will oversee the actual vote.

What are the candidate requirements?

A candidate must have a Somali passport, pay $10,000 to the Somali Central Bank in Mogadishu and not have a criminal record.

Several of the candidates also hold foreign passports, but this does not seem to be a bar to standing.

Although the post is open to women and female politician Asha Ahmed Abdalla declared her intention of standing, all of the candidates are men.

Who is standing?

Twenty-five people satisfied the criteria for candidature, but former planning minister Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame has now dropped out. The remainder include the outgoing President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad, outgoing Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali and former premier Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. All three are seen as strong candidates.

However, they face stiff competition from other former politicians such as Abdullahi Ahmed Addow, a finance minister under Siad Barre, or the leader of Somalia's Muslim Brotherhood - al-Islah party - Abdirahman Moalim Abdullahi Badiyow.

Abdiweli Elmi Omar Gonjeh is a former deputy prime minister and transport minister in the transitional government. And the bids for the leadership of internationally-known academic Ahmed Ismail Samatar or respected journalist Yusuf Garad should not be overlooked, according to observers.

Will there be observers?

The UN has sent "an anti-corruption committee... to assess the way in which the elections are being conducted" amid calls from sections of the Somali political class and international community for a transparent poll.

The UN Security Council has repeatedly warned against any "intimidation and corruption" and announced its "willingness to take action against individuals whose acts threaten the peace, stability or security of Somalia". And there have been calls for the new Somali MPs not to engage in the time-honoured practice of letting their votes be "influenced with cash".

The USA has called for "a fair election", urging the Somali parliamentarians "to act with courage and integrity in conducting a fair and transparent election".

What is the security situation like?

Most of the fighting is concentrated in the south of the country after government forces and African Union troops evicted militant group al-Shabab from their strongholds in the capital, Mogadishu last year.

Nonetheless, senior al-Shabab officials have vowed to disrupt the election if they can. One said the poll was a "ploy to put the nation under neo-colonialism" and the other that it was "being engineered by infidels".

BBC Monitoringselects and translates news from radio, television, press, news agencies and the internet from 150 countries in more than 70 languages. It is based in Caversham, UK, and has several bureaux abroad. For more reports from BBC Monitoring, click here

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