Six candidates were elected to the House of the People as voting for Somaliland and northern regions commenced today in the Somali capital.

The victorious candidates included Somalia’s Deputy Prime Minister Mohamed Omar Arte, former Foreign Affairs Minister Abdirahman Du’ale Bayle and two women, the former Member of Parliament (MPs) Asha Mohamud Omar and Yurub Ahmed Raabi.

The long-delayed start of the voting was witnessed by the Federal Indirect Electoral Implementation Team (FIEIT) Chairman, Omar Mohamed Abdulle, who was optimistic that the electoral process will be completed soon.

He said FIEIT will hand over responsibility to parliament for the election of the Speakers of the Upper House and the House of the People and the Federal President after voting for parliamentary seats is completed.

“FIEIT will only be a spectator in the voting of speakers and president. We are hoping to complete the electoral process before the end of December 2016,” the chairman added.

Mr. Arte thanked the delegates for re-electing him to Parliament and said he was ready to work for all the people of Somalia.

“Our appreciation goes firstly to God, and then to electoral commissions and the security agencies. This is a Somali-owned process, and holding our voting in Mogadishu depicts a sense of ownership,” Mr. Arte added.

Ms. Raabi won a seat that was reserved exclusively for female candidates, thus becoming the first woman to be elected to the House of the People from Somaliland.

“I appreciate the confidence you have in me and the way you voted for me. I promise to reciprocate by dealing with all critical issues,” she noted.

Electoral college delegate Nimo Ahmed also expressed support for the electoral process.

“We are very pleased with today’s voting. We voted for Yurub Ahmed Raabi because of her personality and her recognition for the people who vote for her,” Ms. Ahmed observed.

African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) Superintendent of Police Marion Kutusu said security had been beefed up at the polling site to enable the voting process to proceed peacefully.

“We are working hand in hand with the Somali Police Force and the Rapid Response Team to ensure that there is adequate security and no intimidation of the candidates,” Ms. Kutusu said.

Somali Police Force Inspector Rahma Salat Mohamed also expressed confidence that the electoral process will be conducted in Mogadishu without any violent disruptions.

“We are responsible for the security of the polling site and we are working in partnership with AMISOM Police. There are no incidents so far and we are very pleased,” Ms. Mohamed said.

Somaliland and northern regions were allocated 46 seats in the House of the People and 11 seats in the Upper House.