African standby force 1
Photo: Stuart Price/UN AMISOM troops on Mogadishu's frontline.

Somalia’s 329 members of parliament (MPs) are due to choose a state president on Wednesday amid heavy security in the capital city of Mogadishu and its environs, among some 20 candidates.

African standby force 1
Photo: Stuart Price/UN
AMISOM troops on Mogadishu’s frontline.
Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is seeking re-election against other candidates, including his predecessor Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and two former prime ministers.

Business24

On Wednesday, the lawmakers will meet at Mogadishu’s international airport under heavy security provided by the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) and local security officers, to choose a new leader of the country.

The Senate and the House of the People (lower house) will be in a joint session for the election. A two-thirds majority, or at least 219 votes, is required for an outright victory.

If none of the candidates can pass that threshold, a run-off will be held between the top four candidates.

Political analysts said that the Wednesday vote will be part of the reconstruction effort in Somalia, which was plagued by over two decades of clan conflict.

On Tuesday evening, the presidential candidates were still canvassing for support ahead of the vote.

Incumbent Mohamud hosted more than 170 lawmakers at a Mogadishu hotel, hoping to secure the 219 votes required.

A candidate told Xinhua on condition of anonymity that every candidate was seeking an extra vote from the 329 lawmakers who now gathered in several hotels in the city.

“Even one single vote matters a lot. We are working on the last calculations to ensure we balance off,” the candidate said.

It was reported that a third of lawmakers, who were themselves picked by about 14,000 clan elders and regional figures, are loyal to the president’s Peace and Development Party, giving the incumbent a head start but not enough to guarantee his victory.

Former president Abdirahman Faroole dropped out of the race on Tuesday, reducing the number of contestants to 22.

Faroole said he quit the race because of incessant interference in the Somali election and called on his colleagues in the opposition to unite for the interest of Somali people.

He called on the lawmakers to avoid favoring candidates on the basis of clan preference or personal gains, and rather elect a president who will work for the interests of the country and Somali citizens.

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, former President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, and Center for Dialogue and Research Director Jibril Ibrahim Abdulle are among the leading contenders.

Security remained tight in Mogadishu on Tuesday as major roads were sealed off. Somalia also closed its Mogadishu airspace Tuesday.

Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government was formed in 2004 with a five-year mandate to establish a new constitutional order with all groups represented. The mandate was extended in 2009 to August 2012.

Multiple mortar shells hit areas near the airport in Mogadishu on Tuesday evening as the country prepared for the crucial presidential vote.

Residents in Hamarweyne and Waberi districts which border the airport reported shockwaves as at least five explosions went off.

There was no reports of casualties but residents told Xinhua on Tuesday evening that the explosions were massive.

“We heard huge explosions here and shock but we could not tell where they were coming from,” Abdirashid Isaaq in Waberi district told Xinhua, adding they later established the explosions were mortar shells.

AMISOM later said its troops foiled an attack by militants who attempted to attack its defensive position in Albao, some 20 km northwest of Mogadishu.

“The militants were repulsed with maximum power and withdrew, with casualties expected. AMISOM suffered no casualties in the incident,” the mission said in a brief statement on Tuesday night.

Explosions were reported in Hamarweyne district on Tuesday night.

“There were huge explosions which hit parts of our village. We have not heard of anyone who was injured or killed,” resident Fartun Aways told Xinhua.

The mortar shells were suspected to be targeting the airport area which is the venue of Wednesday’s presidential election. Enditem

Source: Xinhua/NewsGhana.com.gh

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