UN disappointed over latest election delay in Somalia

New York - The United Nations expressed disappointment on Tuesday over a new delay in Somalia's presidential and legislative elections, and expressed hope that the balloting will be "transparent and credible".

Election officials in Mogadishu on Monday announced they were pushing back elections from October to November due to security issues and administrative problems.

The UN special representative for Somalia, Michael Keating, said UN officials worried about the postponement - the latest in a series of election delays in the troubled Horn of African country.

"The renewed delay raises a number of fears. Let me name just two: that the process is being politically manipulated, and that this delay may only be one of yet further 'rolling delays'," Keating told the UN Security Council.

"The urgency and the momentum must be maintained and the additional time used to ensure that the process is as transparent and credible as possible," he said.

Somalia, which was supposed to hold national elections this year, instead has scheduled a limited franchise election in which ordinary citizens do not participate.

The presidential vote originally had been scheduled to take place in August, but the internationally backed government recently pushed back that date to October 30, and now to November. Parliamentary elections also have seen delays.

Somali Foreign Minister Abdusalam Omer assured the council that the government has every intention of sticking to the new election timetable, adding that his government has an "unwavering commitment" to the upcoming polls.

"We recognize the concern that delays to the electoral process raise in our partners and we are not blind to the need to demonstrate our commitment to holding a credible, timely and inclusive electoral process," he said.

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