Blasts echo across Somali capital on eve of election | Reuters

By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar | MOGADISHU MOGADISHU About three blasts, possibly from mortar bombs, echoed on Tuesday across the Somali capital where the authorities had imposed a security lock down on the eve of a presidential vote.There were no immediate reports of casualties or claims of responsibility, although the Islamist al Shabaab group often launches attacks in Mogadishu and says it wants to disrupt Wednesday's vote to be held behind the airport's blast walls.After months of delays, 329 newly sworn-in members of parliament will choose whether to back President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for a second term or one of 21 rivals.In preparation, the authorities blocked main roads in the capital and prevented vehicles from driving near the airport, which is patrolled by African Union peacekeepers AMISOM and surrounded by high concrete barriers.'All those involved in the election, directly or indirectly, are apostates,' Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage had told Reuters earlier in the day. He said the group would take 'tough measures' against those involved and accused foreigners of guiding the vote in a nation heavily dependent on international support as it rebuilds after years of conflict and battles the Islamist insurgency.Presidential candidates have promised to improve security and the economy

Reuters February 08, 2017 00:32:15 IST
Blasts echo across Somali capital on eve of election
| Reuters

Blasts echo across Somali capital on eve of election
 Reuters

By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar
| MOGADISHU

MOGADISHU About three blasts, possibly from mortar bombs, echoed on Tuesday across the Somali capital where the authorities had imposed a security lock down on the eve of a presidential vote.There were no immediate reports of casualties or claims of responsibility, although the Islamist al Shabaab group often launches attacks in Mogadishu and says it wants to disrupt Wednesday's vote to be held behind the airport's blast walls.After months of delays, 329 newly sworn-in members of parliament will choose whether to back President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for a second term or one of 21 rivals.In preparation, the authorities blocked main roads in the capital and prevented vehicles from driving near the airport, which is patrolled by African Union peacekeepers AMISOM and surrounded by high concrete barriers."All those involved in the election, directly or indirectly, are apostates," Al Shabaab spokesman Sheikh Ali Mohamud Rage had told Reuters earlier in the day.

He said the group would take "tough measures" against those involved and accused foreigners of guiding the vote in a nation heavily dependent on international support as it rebuilds after years of conflict and battles the Islamist insurgency.Presidential candidates have promised to improve security and the economy. Until now, a construction boom in the bombed out capital has yet to spread far across the rest of the nation. A severe drought is threatening a new national food crisis.Rival candidates have also accused each other of vote-buying, a practice Western donors have sought to stamp out. Diplomats say corruption continues to hamper development.

Al Shabaab, which once ruled most of Somalia and wants to impose its strict interpretation of Islam on the nation, often launches gun and bomb raids in Mogadishu. But it now controls increasingly smaller pockets of territory.Faced with the impossible task of securing polling stations across the nation, the government and its Western backers dropped an initial plan to give each adult a vote.

Instead, about 14,000 clan elders and regional figures chose the 275 members of the lower house of parliament and 54 members of senate. Those lawmakers will pick the president on Wednesday.The system is a modest improvement on 2012, when just 135 elders picked parliament, which chose the president.Experts said President Mohamud, who has had to fend off accusations by Western donors of corruption in his government, can rely on the loyalty of about a third of the new lawmakers, giving him an edge but not a guarantee of victory. (Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Alison Williams)

This story has not been edited by Firstpost staff and is generated by auto-feed.

Updated Date:

TAGS:

also read

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources
| Reuters
World

France, Germany to agree to NATO role against Islamic State - sources | Reuters

By Robin Emmott and John Irish | BRUSSELS/PARIS BRUSSELS/PARIS France and Germany will agree to a U.S. plan for NATO to take a bigger role in the fight against Islamic militants at a meeting with President Donald Trump on Thursday, but insist the move is purely symbolic, four senior European diplomats said.The decision to allow the North Atlantic Treaty Organization to join the coalition against Islamic State in Syria and Iraq follows weeks of pressure on the two allies, who are wary of NATO confronting Russia in Syria and of alienating Arab countries who see NATO as pushing a pro-Western agenda."NATO as an institution will join the coalition," said one senior diplomat involved in the discussions. "The question is whether this just a symbolic gesture to the United States

China's Xi says navy should become world class
| Reuters
World

China's Xi says navy should become world class | Reuters

BEIJING Chinese President Xi Jinping on Wednesday called for greater efforts to make the country's navy a world class one, strong in operations on, below and above the surface, as it steps up its ability to project power far from its shores.China's navy has taken an increasingly prominent role in recent months, with a rising star admiral taking command, its first aircraft carrier sailing around self-ruled Taiwan and a new aircraft carrier launched last month.With President Donald Trump promising a US shipbuilding spree and unnerving Beijing with his unpredictable approach on hot button issues including Taiwan and the South and East China Seas, China is pushing to narrow the gap with the U.S. Navy.Inspecting navy headquarters, Xi said the navy should "aim for the top ranks in the world", the Defence Ministry said in a statement about his visit."Building a strong and modern navy is an important mark of a top ranking global military," the ministry paraphrased Xi as saying.