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Somalia imposes election curfew in capital

By AFP - May 14,2022 - Last updated at May 14,2022

In this file photo taken on March 14, 2017, Internally displaced families stand next to their huts at a makeshift camp on the outskirts of Baidoa, in the south-western Bay region of Somalia, where thousands of people arrive daily after they fled the parched countryside (AFP photo)

MOGADISHU — Police in Somalia on Saturday announced a curfew in the capital Mogadishu, citing security concerns as they barred all public activity except emergency services until Sunday’s long-overdue presidential election is completed.

Dozens of candidates are competing for the top job in the troubled Horn of Africa nation as it battles an Islamist insurgency and the threat of famine, with the vote already well over a year behind schedule.

“Restrictions will be imposed on the movement of vehicular, people and motorbikes starting from 14th of May 2022 about 09:00PM 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 extremists.

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 victor must secure the backing of two-thirds of parliament, which means a minimum of 184 votes.

The contenders have vowed to tackle Somalia’s myriad problems and bring relief to citizens weary of violence by Al Shabaab jihadists, surging inflation and a worsening drought that threatens to drive millions into famine.


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