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The New Arab Staff

Somali PM to reserve nearly one-in-three parliamentary seats for women

Nearly one third of seats have been set aside for women [Getty]

Date of publication: 12 January, 2021

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The Somali prime minister has reserved nearly a third of parliamentary seats for women following demands from citizens.
Somalis are cautiously celebrating a pledge from the country's prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, that nearly one third of parliamentary seats will be set aside for women lawmakers, as soon as next month.

"Somalia Prime Minster his Excellency @MohamedHRoble assured that the Federal Government of #Somalia is committed to ensuring a 30% quota for women in both houses of Somali parliament for the upcoming elections ...," government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said on Twitter on Sunday.

Although the move by the government was welcomed, some women's rights groups have voiced concern that implementing these changes in time for the 8 February election could prove a challenge.

The quota also relies heavily on a commitment of clan leaders to help fill the seats with female representatives, Reuters reported, which comes after years of campaigning by women's rights groups for better representation in politics.

Clan leaders will nominate delegates to parliament, who will vote in the 275 members and 54 senators. A president will then be elected via secret ballot.

Currently, female lawmakers in Somalia make up 24 per cent of the 329 seats in the lower and upper houses of parliament, according to the Inter-Parliamentary Union (IPU).

"The seats are shared among clans ... we want assurances that we will reach our target of 30 percent women in the next parliament," said Suad Salah, co-founder of LeadNow, a grassroots movement aimed at increasing women's political voice.

Implementation relies heavily on whether the country's many clans will put forth a female candidate.

Ruqiya Muhiyadin, 38, who plans to run as a candidate in the capital, Mogadishu, said as much to Reuters.

"Initially we doubted we would get our share in the next parliament. I appeal for our cultural leaders to consider the PM's latest pledge for women."

Somalia continues to be gripped by internal turmoil. Senior government officials on Sunday were ambushed by extremist group Al-Shabaab, who said they attacked a vehicle carrying Luuq DC Ahmed Bule and police chief Abdullahi Hussein to Dolow.

It is just one of several attacks in recent months.

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