MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia has pushed back its upcoming presidential election by a month, sparking concern in the international community, which has called on all parties to implement the electoral calendar without delay.
This Horn of Africa country has been trying to rebuild after establishing its first functioning central government since 1991, when warlords overthrew a longtime dictator and plunged the impoverished nation into chaos.
The chairman of the electoral commission, Omar Mohamed Abdulle, said the presidential election will now take place on Nov. 30, while parliamentary elections will be from Oct. 23 to Nov. 10.
Speaking before the U.N. Security Council in New York on Tuesday, Somalia's Foreign Minister Abdusalam H. Omer reassured diplomats of "the unwavering commitment of the federal government to holding a credible and inclusive electoral process in 2016."
Omer blamed the delays on issues such as the need for presidents of Somali states to name candidates for the upper house, agreements with tribal elders in certain regions and security concerns in parts of the country where the extremist group al-Shabab remains a threat.
Al-Shabab has increased attacks on military bases across parts of south and central Somalia in recent months and still stages assaults in the capital.
"The Somali people are excited by this positive move toward democracy, and the different electoral commissions, as well as the Somali people in general, are working tirelessly on the implementation of the electoral mechanism in line with the new agreed timelines," Omer said. "We are fully engaged in working to ensure that more Somalis than ever before can have a say in the future governance of their country."
Associated Press writer Michael Astor at the United Nations contributed.