MOGADISHU, Feb 3 – Somalia\’s transitional parliament Thursday extended its own mandate by three years, speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan said.
The mandate of the 550-strong body had been due to expire alongside that of the transitional government (TFG) in August of this year.
Of the 436 MPs at the venue, 421 endorsed the extension.
"Parliament will carry out huge reforms in order to serve the people of Somalia," Adan said, insisting the move would "save Somalia from anarchy."
"This is a victory for future Somali democracy," he said.
Adan said parliament will elect a president and a speaker in the last stages of the expiry of its mandate, probably in July.
Parliament was supposed to be dormant for the last six months of its mandate, meaning that without the extension starting February it would not have been able to pass legislation.
According to the transitional federal charter, the extension of the parliament\’s mandate requires a broader consultation and some Somali officials, as well as the TFG\’s foreign partners, are expected to challenge the move.
Somalia\’s parliament numbered 275 MPs from 2004 to 2009 but an extra 275 seats were added in order to accommodate the Islamist opposition headed by current president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
The Western-backed government was formed in neighbouring Kenya in 2004 and was to have adopted a new constitution and prepared for elections during the interim period.
However, Somalia\’s relentless fighting and the emergence of a powerful Islamist movement that has heavily curtailed the government\’s authority has hindered progress.
At last weekend\’s African Union summit, AU chief Jean Ping accused the transitional government of having made little headway.
Al Qaeda-inspired Shebab insurgents have over the past three years waged a deadly war to topple the government, which only controls a few streets in Mogadishu under the protection of a contingent of AU forces.
Somalia has lacked an effective central government since the ouster of president Mohamed Siad Barre 20 years ago unleashed bloody violence.