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Somalia imposes election curfew in capital

Somali police declared a curfew in the capital Mogadishu on Saturday, citing security concerns as they prohibited all public activity except emergency services until Sunday’s long-delayed presidential election.

Dozens of candidates are competing for the top job in the troubled Horn of Africa nation, which is fighting an Islamist insurgency and the threat of famine, with the election already running well behind schedule.

“Restrictions will be imposed on the movement of vehicular, people and motorbikes starting from 14th of May 2022 about 09:00 PM in the evening,” police spokesman Abdifatah Adan Hassan told a press conference in Mogadishu.

“Restrictions will be removed in the morning of 16th of May 2022 after the election,” he added.

The vote is expected to draw a line under a political crisis that erupted in February 2021, when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s term ended without a new election.

Somalia’s international partners have long warned that the delays — caused by political infighting — were a dangerous distraction from the fight against Al-Shabaab jihadists.

The Al-Qaeda-linked militants controlled Mogadishu until 2011 when they were pushed out by an African Union force, but still hold territory in the countryside and carry out frequent attacks in the capital and beyond.

The African Union force ATMIS will be responsible for securing the election venue inside the heavily guarded Mogadishu airport, the parliamentary committee tasked with organising the poll said on Tuesday.

President Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, is among 39 candidates in the running, along with former presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as well as ex-prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

Puntland state president Said Abdullahi Dani and former foreign minister Fawzia Yusuf Adan — the lone female contender — are also vying for the job.

Somalia has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years. Instead, polls follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president.

The election is likely to take several hours and stretch late into the night, with multiple rounds of voting expected as candidates drop out, narrowing the options until a winner is chosen.

The winner must receive two-thirds of parliament’s support, which requires a minimum of 184 votes.

The candidates have vowed to address Somalia’s numerous problems and provide relief to citizens who are tired of Al-Shabaab jihadist violence, skyrocketing inflation, and a worsening drought that threatens to drive millions to famine.

Courtesy Bol News

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