Six candidates in Somalia are running for the powerful post of parliament speaker, officials said Saturday, as slow progress is made towards selecting a new administration for the war-torn nation.
The United Nations-backed process, which has already selected the majority of a new parliament and will culminate in a vote for president, is the latest bid to end two decades of instability in the Horn of Africa nation.
The election co.mmittee "received six candidacies for speaker, 11 for first deputy, and four for second deputy speaker", the U.N political office for Somalia (UNPOS) said Saturday.
However, despite progress, the African Union repeated warnings Saturday that the process "continues to be jeopardized by individuals determined to maintain Somalia in a state of chaos", it said in a statement.
Bitter arguments have begun between challengers for the top posts, divided along Somalia's notoriously fractious clan lines.
All six candidates for speaker -- to be selected by parliament in a secret ballot -- are former ministers in previous administrations. Elections are expected next week, although they have already been delayed several times.
Analysts have taken a gloomy outlook on the process, suggesting it offers little but a reshuffling of key positions.
Once the speaker is selected, parliament will then vote for a new president, with over a dozen candidates expected to be in the running for the top post.
At least 210 of the 275-member parliament have been selected by a group of 135 traditional elders, the majority sworn into office on Monday on the tarmac of the capital's airport, protected by African Union troops.
The nearly 17,000-strong AU force has propped up the Western-backed leadership against attacks by the al-Qaida linked Shebab insurgents.
The new administration replaces a transitional government, which was in place for eight years marred by political infighting and rampant corruption.
Somalia has not had a stable central government since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohammed Siad Barre, which sparked rounds of bloody civil war and decades of chaos.