Somalia names new PM, announces plan for national elections

Somalia names new PM, announces  plan for national elections
Members of new parliament look on after they were sworn-in at Adan Adde airport in Mogadishu. Somalia is likely to hold elections next year. (AFP/File)
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Updated 19 September 2020

Somalia names new PM, announces plan for national elections

Somalia names new PM, announces  plan for national elections
  • The UN had described the pursuit of one-person, one-vote elections as a “historic milestone” on Somalia’s path to full democratization and peace after decades of war and violent instability in the Horn of Africa nation

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has appointed a new prime minister hours after brokering an agreement with regional leaders for elections next year that abandons a promised one-person, one-vote model.
Mohamed’s office announced late Thursday the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble, a Swedish-trained civil engineer and political neophyte, and “wished him to take duties and tasks ahead with diligence.”
He fills a vacancy left when former Premier Hassan Ali Khaire was removed by parliament in July for failing to pave the way for fully democratic elections due before February 2021.
The foreign-backed government in Mogadishu has been in drawn-out negotiations with Somalia’s federal states over how to proceed with parliamentary and presidential elections.
However, the process has been held up by political infighting between the president — better known by his nickname Farmajo — and the country’s regional leaders.
Somalia had set itself the goal of holding its first fully democratic, one-man, one-vote election since 1969 — as opposed to a complex system in which special delegates pick lawmakers who then vote for the president.
But an agreement reached between the president, five regional leaders and the mayor of Mogadishu has conceded that such a vote would be impossible within the time frame remaining before Somalia’s parliament expires in November, and Farmajo’s term ends in February.
In an official communique, the negotiators said delegates from Somalia’s myriad clans would elect the 275 MPs of the lower house, which in turn chooses the president.

SPEEDREAD

The foreign-backed government in Mogadishu has been in drawn-out negotiations with Somalia’s federal states over how to proceed with parliamentary and presidential elections.

While the process mirrors the last election held in 2017, it will go a bit further in terms of inclusivity, with 27,775 delegates voting — almost twice as many as last time.
No timeline was given, and it remains unclear what role the country’s independent election commission will play, with the federal and state governments to appoint their own agencies to oversee their respective polls.
The plan still needs to be approved by Somalia’s parliament.
The UN had described the pursuit of one-person, one-vote elections as a “historic milestone” on Somalia’s path to full democratization and peace after decades of war and violent instability in the Horn of Africa nation.
But observers had warned that such a goal was looking increasingly unlikely due to tensions with the states, technical aspects such as voter registration, and security challenges posed by the Al-Shabab militant group.
The fragile central government, chaired by Farmajo, controls only a part of Somali territory and relies on an international peacekeeping force to confront a violent insurgency from Al-Shabab in the countryside.
Mogadishu had been criticized by observers for engaging in political feuds with federal states to gain control in the election process, rather than focusing on the fight against the militants.


UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
Updated 31 min 41 sec ago

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly

UK scientists warn too early to tell if new COVID-19 variant more deadly
  • PM Boris Johnson had previously said evidence showed higher mortality rate 
  • Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant carries with it a higher mortality rate

LONDON: The discovery of a new coronavirus disease (COVID-19) variant in the UK should not alter the response to the pandemic, scientists say, despite fears that it could prove more deadly.
Top medics have said it is “too early” to say whether the variant, thought to be up to 70 percent more transmissible, carries with it a higher mortality rate.
UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson claimed there was “some evidence” the variant had “a higher degree of mortality” at a press conference on Friday, Jan. 22, with the UK’s chief scientific adviser, Sir Patrick Vallance, adding it could be up to 30 percent more deadly. 
That came after a briefing by the UK government’s New and Emerging Respiratory Virus Threats Advisory Group (Nervtag) said there was a “realistic possibility” of an increased risk of death.
Prof. Peter Horby, Nervtag’s chairman, said: “Scientists are looking at the possibility that there is increased severity ... and after a week of looking at the data we came to the conclusion that it was a realistic possibility.
“We need to be transparent about that. If we were not telling people about this we would be accused of covering it up.”
But infectious disease modeller Prof. Graham Medley, one of the authors of the Nervtag briefing, told the BBC: “The question about whether it is more dangerous in terms of mortality I think is still open.
He added: “In terms of making the situation worse it is not a game changer. It is a very bad thing that is slightly worse.”
Dr. Mike Tildesley, a member of the Scientific Pandemic Influenza Group on Modelling for the UK government’s Scientific Advisory Group for Emergencies, said he was “quite surprised” Johnson had made the claim.
“I just worry that where we report things pre-emptively where the data are not really particularly strong,” he added.