Friday, 27 January 2017

Somali presidential poll must hold Feb. 8 – UN envoy

The Special Representative of the UN Secretary-General for Somalia, Mr Michael Keating, said the Feb. 8 Somali presidential election must go on in spite of the latest Al Shabaab attack.
Keating, who briefed the UN Security Council on the situation in the country, said that the meeting was coming at an auspicious time following an extended and exhaustive parliamentary electoral process.

According to him, the presidential election in Somalia is just 12 days away.

Keating said that an immediate priority was to ensure that the presidential vote took place on the agreed date.

He regretted that Al Shabab was attempting to discredit and disrupt the election process, including carrying out a number of terrorist attacks during the week that left dozens dead.

He also stressed that it was essential that the last stage of the electoral process is conducted transparently and according to the agreed rules.

According to him, the rules were designed to ensure a free and fair election.

UN Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) had reported that a hotel attack in Mogadishu during the week killed dozens of Somali civilians and soldiers, while wounding many more.

Mr Joseph Contreras, Spokesperson for the Mission, said “the latest figures that we have been seeing range from between 15 and 20 dead, some of whom were the attackers themselves, some of them Somali soldiers.

“Perhaps about half of the dead were civilians and among the dozens of injured were at least five journalists, Contreras said.

“Al-Shabab has claimed responsibility for the attack on the Dayah Hotel, which is located near the Presidential palace, and is frequented by lawmakers during their visits to Mogadishu.”

He, however, said he was not aware if any lawmakers was visiting the hotel.

Contreras said the attack provided fresh evidence of the violent extremists’ desperate attempts to derail Somalia’s electoral process.

“The attack also reflects the terrorists’ frustration over their inability to sabotage recent voting for seats in the two Houses of Somalia’s new Parliament.”