In Somalia, officials now say February 8 will be the long-waited presidential election day.
The electoral commission announced the date Wednesday following a series of discussions by the electoral commission and the newly inaugurated federal parliament, whose members were sworn in at the end of December.
Somalia’s elections have seen frequent delays – among others, a presidential election date recently set for December 28 was postponed until January – amid repeated allegations of bribery, fraud, intimidation and violence. The United Nations had urged completion of the entire election process ahead of a UN Security Council meeting on Somalia on January 19, but without success.
The date announcement came as new violence claimed lives in a bombing attack on the Dayah Hotel in Mogadishu. Al-Shabaab militants have claimed responsibility for the attack, which killed at least 28 people at a site near the president’s residence that’s often frequented by Somali lawmakers.
At least five journalists were among the injured, according to a spokesman for United Nations Assistance Mission in Somalia. The spokesman, Joseph Contreras, said the attack was a deliberate attempt to derail Somalia’s electoral process, and reflected the anger of violent extremists unable to control the voting for a new parliament.
Both the United Nations and the African Union condemned the attack.