Somalia delays landmark regional vote as tension rise

Mukhtar Robow

Mukhtar Robow

Tensions between the federal government and state authorities have mounted in recent weeks after Mogadishu tried to block the candidacy of former al Shabab Islamist militant Mukhtar Robow.

“After the committee evaluated the many activities waiting, available time and the incomplete tasks to be completed within a short time frame…, (it) decided the election date will be December 19,” a committee statement said.

The original date for the election was November 17 before its initial postponement to Nov. 28 and then to December 5.

South West is slated to be the first of Somalia’s seven semi-autonomous regions to hold presidential elections in the coming months, a critical juncture in a growing power struggle between the central government in Mogadishu and the states.

The postponement in South West state came a day after the central government deployed dozens of federal police officers to Baidoa, the state capital, to help “tighten security”, said Hassan Hussein, South West state security minister.

Further deployments would be made to help prevent al Shabab destabilising the election, Hussein told reporters on Friday.

“There is an election and what is required is an election to take place peacefully. The enemy al Shabab often tries to terrify the peace of South West state,” Hussein said.

Somalia has been trying to claw its way out of the remnants of the civil war that engulfed it in 1991, when clan warlords overthrew a dictator and then turned on each other.

Al Shabab has been fighting for more than a decade to topple the weak central government and implement its interpretation of Islamic law. -Reuters

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