Sri Lanka minister defects to challenge president

Updated 21 November 2014

Sri Lanka minister defects to challenge president

COLOMBO: A senior member of Sri Lanka’s government has announced that he is quitting the ruling party to stand as the main opposition’s candidate against President Mahinda Rajapakse in upcoming elections.
“I thank the UNP (United National Party) for choosing me as the common opposition candidate,” said Health Minister Maithripala Sirisena, who is also general secretary in Rajapakse’s Sri Lanka Freedom Party.
“I am grateful to the UNP for choosing the general secretary of the SLFP to be their candidate,” he added.
“We will definitely win.”
Sirisena made his announcement at a press conference in Colombo, seated alongside three other ministers and former Sri Lankan president Chandrika Kumaratunga, who is the main patron of the president’s party.
Rajapaksa, who came to power in 2005, declared on Thursday that he will seek an unprecedented third term as president — a move that was only made possible after he pushed through changes to the constitution.
While Rajapaksa remains generally popular with majority Sinhalese voters after overseeing the end of a 37-year war against Tamil separatists in 2009, critics say he has become increasingly authoritarian.
“The country is heading toward a dictatorship,” said Sirisena, who also accused the president of nepotism.
“The entire economy and every aspect of society is controlled by one family,” he said in reference to the president’s brothers who include the speaker of parliament Chamal Rajapakse.
“Corruption is rampant, there is no rule of law,” he added.
Although the exact election date has yet to be announced, it is widely expected to be held in the second week of January.


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)
Updated 19 September 2020

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.