Somali parliament extends its mandate for three years

Somali MPs electing a president in 2004
Image caption Somali MPs are due to elect a president in July

MPs in Somalia have voted to extend their mandate for another three years, after getting the approval of the African Union last week.

Their current term expires in August, raising fears that the UN-backed government could become illegal.

It has failed to achieve its target of enacting a new constitution and organising elections by August.

The government only controls parts of the capital and is battling Islamist groups which dominate southern Somalia.

Of the 435 MPs present, 421 voted in favour, 11 against and three abstained, said Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan.

The MPs elect a president, who in turn chooses a government.

Correspondents say President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, a moderate Islamist, is expected to seek re-election.

Mr Adan said this would be done in July.

"Parliament will carry out huge reforms in order to serve the people of Somalia," he said. "This is a victory for future Somali democracy."

Shortly before the African Union agreed to extend the mandate of the Somali parliament, AU Commission Chairman Jean Ping accused the government of "non-performance" and failing to make enough progress in bringing peace to the country.

The current parliament was chosen during a peace conference in 2004.

Somalia has not had a functioning national government since Siad Barre was ousted 20 years ago.

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