MOGADISHU – Somalia's electoral body said on Saturday it will not be possible to hold elections in the east African nation this year.
Halima Yarey, chairperson of the National Independent Electoral Commission (NIEC), said the poll body requires more than a year to prepare a credible poll where Somalia's people will have an opportunity to take part in "one person, one vote" election for the first time since 1969.
Yarey said NIEC needs 13 more months to hold credible elections.
"The commission needs to register citizens, register political parties and the candidates," Yarey told parliament in Mogadishu.
She said the earliest Somalia can go to the polls is March 2021 if the parliament approves the manual voter registration option which she said could take only nine months as opposed to biometric registration which is costly in terms of acquisition and training of staff.
Yarey said the election law which is currently being fine tuned in parliament only seeks for the use of biometric system and does not provide for manual option.
The electoral official said the country will be ready for elections in August 2021 if the parliament approves for the use of a biometric system, noting that these timelines are based on the assumption that voter registration kicks off in July.
Yarey said the electoral body is facing many challenges including lack of funding, insecurity and issues related to regional states.
Somalia, with the help of the international community, is making urgent preparations for universal suffrage elections.
Parliamentary and presidential elections took place in late 2016 and early 2017 through a system of indirect suffrage.