Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo signed into law the electoral bill on Friday, jumping one more hurdle for the country to hold planned polls this year.
The president signed the bill into law during the closing ceremony of the 6th assembly of Somalia’s 10th parliament, allowing the legislators to take a two-month break.
The gathering that started on Thursday evening and went on beyond midnight was held at the Villa Somalia, the official residence of the Somali President in Mogadishu.
President Farmajo termed the signing historic.
“You, the people of Somalia, can see that the bill had been endorsed by both the Peoples’ Hall and the Upper House. It returns the power to you so you can vote for the (political) party and the person you want,” he said.
The law is expected to advance the democratic process of the troubled Horn of Africa country, which seeks to hold its first all-participating elections in five decades.
Somalia has held four presidential elections since 2007 but they were done through a type of college system that sees clan elders nominate delegates, who in turn elect MPs.
The MPs then vote in the President.
This year, Somalia and its partners plan to involve every eligible citizen, although it is unclear for now whether it will be a universal suffrage process, given the insecurity in the country.
The bill was approved by the Peoples’ Housel (the lower chamber of parliament) on December 28, 2019 and by the Upper House (Senate) on February 2.
If implemented, Somalia could either hold polls this year or early in 22, offering ordinary folk a chance to elect MPs and senators for the first time in 50 years.
The last multiparty general election was held in Somalia on March 26, 1969, before a military junta of Siad Barre took over power on October 21 the same year.
Top Somali officials including Senate Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi and Mohamed Mursal Abdurahman, the Speaker of the Lower House, witnessed the signing.
Others were Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre and Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled alias Khadar.