The determination by the Somalia federal government to influence the outcome of the Southwest State’s presidential election has raised doubts about whether the polls will still be held on December 19 having already been postponed three times.
The election was initially set for November 17, but was pushed to November 28 and then December 5, due to what the government says is lack of equipment and ballot papers.
However, experts on Somalia say that the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo is determined to get a friendly leader in Southwest State especially after the regional leaders threatened to suspend their cooperation with the centre in September.
The president and his Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire are backing former minster for energy and water resources, Addukaziz Andullahi Mohammed, and are opposed to the candidature of former Al Shabaab deputy leader Sheikh Mukhtar Robow.
However, National Assembly Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman — who hails from Southwest — is opposed to the federal government’s interference and is demanding that Mogadishu remain neutral in the matter.
Mr Abdirahman, who took over from Mohamed Osman Jawari in April, is also opposed to the deployment of more troops to Baidoa to safeguard the election, after intelligence reports revealed that Al Shabaab was planning to disrupt the polls.
The three leaders met on December 3 to discuss the issues but the differences still remain.
Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of Wadajir Party, told The EastAfrican that the challenge is that the government is determined to block Sheikh Robow from contesting but his clan wants him to do so.
Sheikh Robow, who belongs to the Digil and Merifle Clan, which is the majority in Southwest, defected to the government last year after denouncing the insurgents.
The national electoral body had banned Sheikh Robow from participating in the elections because of his past record but the Southwest State’s election body later cleared him.
Now the government is arguing that he is yet to be cleared from the United States’ list of terrorists.