Unfazed by blasts, Somali politicians elect new president – SABC News

Somali politicians voted for a new president on Sunday, despite explosions near the fortified airport hangar hosting an overdue election needed to keep the flow of foreign money to a conflict-torn and impoverished nation.

36 initial contenders were reduced to four veteran faces in the first round of parliament, guarded by African Union peacekeepers who are in Somalia to ward off Islamist insurgents.

A new leader should be known by Sunday night.

The four remaining candidates were Puntland Region President Said Abdulahi Deni, Acting President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Ex-President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Ex-Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.

According to local residents and a Reuters reporter, explosions sounded near Mogadishu airport during the first round. There was no word on the impact or an acknowledgment of responsibility, but Somalis are used to frequent attacks by al-Shabaab fighters on state institutions.

“I counted three large sounds of mortar shells hitting the airport. We are shocked to hear these mortar sounds as Mogadishu goes into full curfew. Who is firing her?” said one of the residents, Halima Ibrahim.

The United Nations-backed vote has been delayed by more than a year due to government infighting but must be held this month to secure a $400 million International Monetary Fund program.


It’s set during the worst drought in Somalia in four decades and against a depressingly familiar backdrop of al-Shabaab violence, internal infighting between security forces and clan rivalries.

Since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has endured civil war, insurgency and clan warfare without a strong central government.

Although holding the trial was something of a success, many in the nation of 15 million were skeptical of the progress. Leading candidates are old faces from the past who have done little to stem conflict and corruption, they complained.

Voting has traditionally been dominated by bribery, Somalis say.

Somalia is still unable to hold a direct referendum due to uncertainty, with the government having little control beyond the capital and peacekeepers guarding an Iraq-style “Green Zone”.

“The only hope we have is this election,” said medical student Nur Ibrahim.

“There is no life in Somalia. We learn and are then bombed by terrorists. If there is no peace, education is useless.”

Unfazed by blasts, Somali politicians elect new president – SABC News

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