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Djibouti Conference

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Somalia's Presidential voting gets underway

The 245 members of Somalia's new interim parliament, the Transitional National Assembly (TNA), meeting in Djibouti, started voting on Friday to elect the country's first head of state in nearly a decade of civil war and anarchy.

Conference sources told IRIN the voting was expected to last well into the night as the field of 28 candidates is narrowed down.

Once the new president is chosen, he will be formally inaugurated at a ceremony to which several regional heads of state have been invited by President Ismael Omar Guelleh of Djibouti.

Click the graphic to visit IRIN's Somalia National Peace Conference WebSpecial According to a new charter, the new president must be a practising Muslim, at least 40 years-old and of sound mind, whose parents and wife are "original" Somali-born citizens.

His record should show him never to have been convicted of a crime against the state, nor to have engaged in commercial or professional activities conflicting with the requirements of the office of the head of state.

In coming days, he will be sworn into office for three years, and will appoint a prime minister who can be dismissed if he loses the confidence of the TNA. The president will also appoint the chief justice of the Supreme Court, and will be commander-in-chief of the armed forces. But he can only "declare a state of war after authorisation from the TNA".

Delegates at the conference have said they expect the new government to return to Somalia. But no date has been announced, and some of the country's key faction leaders who have boycotted the Djibouti process, have said they will not recognise or accept the new administration.


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