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Somali lawmakers begin voting for new president

MOGADISHU, Somalia--Somalia's lawmakers on Monday began electing a new president, in what the U.N. has billed as a key step towards restoring peace in a nation that has lacked an effective central government for two decades.

Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari, elected by his peers in August, was the first to cast his vote in the presidential poll where 25 candidates are in the running, including the outgoing transitional president Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The election is the final stage of a U.N.-backed process to set up a new administration for the war-torn country.

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