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Somalia set for presidential vote

Long-delayed election takes place amid intense insecurity by OMAR FARUK The Associated Press | May 13, 2022 at 1:00 a.m.
FILE - Somali presidential candidate Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, center, chats with campaign supporters at Lido beach in Mogadishu, Somalia on July 19, 2021. Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, May 15, 2022 ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh, File)

MOGADISHU, Somalia -- Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote Sunday, ending the electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place.

Authorities have registered 39 presidential candidates, a list that includes incumbent Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, two former presidents, a former prime minister, several top officials and even a journalist. The field includes one woman, Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, a lawmaker who once served as Somalia's foreign minister.

The vote will take place amid heightened insecurity as the Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, which opposes the federal government, continues to stage lethal attacks in the capital and elsewhere in the Horn of Africa nation.

With mortar shells and gun assaults, al-Shabab in recent months has repeatedly tested the defenses of the Halane military camp, which is protected by African Union peacekeepers. A suicide bombing Wednesday killed at least four, including two government soldiers, at a checkpoint near the heavily fortified airport area where lawmakers will meet Sunday to choose a new president.

The vote is behind schedule by 15 months and Somali authorities faced a May 17 deadline to hold the vote or risk losing key funding from international donors.

Mohamed has been locked in a power struggle with his prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, over control of the government. Roble is not running for president, but behind the scenes he and other former leaders could play a decisive role in the outcome of the vote.

"A lot of issues are at stake. The most important thing is to oust the incumbent and unite all candidates against him, although he is aware his chances for re-election are minimal, unlike his predecessors," said Mohamed Mohamud, a Mogadishu-based political analyst.

"There are disturbing phenomena that the incumbent can't secure the required votes for his re-election, but he is determined to twist results for his preferred opposition candidate and attempt to prevent specific candidates from winning even if they are ahead in the polls," he said.

The goal of holding a direct, one-person-one-vote election in Somalia remains elusive. It was meant to take place this time. Instead, the federal government and states agreed on another "indirect election," with lawmakers elected by community leaders -- delegates of powerful clans -- in each member state.

All 329 lawmakers of both chambers of parliament are expected to vote by secret ballot on Sunday. To win in the first round, a candidate must secure two-thirds of the vote, or 219 ballots. Observers expect a second or even third round of voting for the four top candidates.

Mohamed's four-year term expired in February 2021, but he stayed in office after the lower house of parliament approved a two-year extension of his mandate and that of the federal government, drawing criticism from the international community.

Mohamed reversed the term extension and instructed the prime minister to engage with leaders of regional states to chart a fresh roadmap to the vote.

  photo  Supporters of president of Puntland and presidential candidate for Somalia, Said Abdullahi Dani, show a photograph of him on their phone, on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
 
 
  photo  Ugandan peacekeepers with the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) stand next to their armored vehicle, with a campaign poster for presidential candidate Ahmed Abdullahi Samow seen above, on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
 
 
  photo  A campaign poster for presidential candidate Jamal Ahmed Ibrahim is seen above an armored vehicle belonging to Ugandan peacekeepers with the African Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS), on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
 
 
  photo  A young girl looks at a campaign sticker for former deputy prime minister and sole female presidential candidate Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adam, on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
 
 
  photo  Supporters raise their hands near a campaign poster for former president and presidential candidate Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, on a street in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, May 10, 2022. Somalia is set to hold its long-delayed presidential vote on Sunday, ending the convoluted electoral process that raised tensions in the country when the president's term expired last year without a successor in place. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)
 
 

Print Headline: Somalia set for presidential vote

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