Somalia on Friday extended its deadline to finish voting for the lower house of parliament, the latest in a series of election delays that risk starving the country of budget funds.
The fragile Horn of Africa nation has struggled to hold elections, with polls delayed by more than a year, bedeviled by political squabbling and a simmering extremist insurgency.
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The lower house elections were due to be completed on Friday and pave the way for lawmakers to pick a president.
But Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf said the deadline had now been revised to March 15.
“The National Consultative Council... expressed their disappointment with the fact that they could not meet the deadline,” the minister said in a televised address.
The announcement came days after the International Monetary Fund (IMF) warned that it might have to stop its program in Somalia if the polls were postponed again.
The IMF program is due for a review in mid-May but election delays mean that a new administration may not be ready to endorse planned reforms in time, forcing it to an automatic halt, Laura Jaramillo Mayor, the fund’s Somalia mission chief told AFP.
Elections were originally scheduled for a year ago but were delayed when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmajo, tried to extend his term.
Farmajo’s four-year mandate expired in February last year, but was controversially extended by parliament in April, triggering deadly gun battles on the streets of Mogadishu.
Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble then brokered a new election timetable, but in the months that followed, a bitter rivalry between him and Farmajo derailed the process again.
The international community has voiced fears that election delays, as well as the feud between Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, could set off new troubles for a country that has lacked stable governance for three decades.
The United States last month threatened to impose sanctions if the country missed Friday’s deadline.
Somalia’s elections follow a complex indirect model.
Nearly 30,000 clan delegates are assigned to choose 275 MPs for the lower house while state legislatures elect senators for the upper house, a process that has now been completed.
Once the lower house election is concluded, both assemblies vote for the next president.
So far about 175 members of the lower house have been elected.
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