Al-Shabaab chief threatens election delegates forward of election

Al-Shabaab leader threatens election delegates ahead of election

MOGADISHU, Somalia – Al-Shabaab says it is monitoring ongoing preparations for elections in Somalia, which threatens the future of the Horn of Africa nation, which still grapples with instability, more than three decades on the ousting of military dictator Siad Barre.

Al-Shabaab, which controls vast swathes of rural central and southern Somalia, has fought to overthrow the fragile UN-backed Somali administration through threats, cowardly attacks and intimidation from senior officials and innocent civilians.

In an audio recording released by the group’s friendly media, Ahmed Omar alias Abu Ubaidah, the substantive leader of Al-Shabaab, is said to threaten delegates who are expected to participate in Somali elections due to start on July 25.

According to Ubaidah, whose whereabouts are still unknown, Al-Shabaab opposes the whole process as it is “not transparent” and denies Somalis the right to “vote for the good guys” leaders “in a free and fair exercise.

“They [leaders] will not guarantee your safety, ”he said in an alleged audio released by militant media. This was his first speech regarding the upcoming polls, which may lead to several questions about voter safety.

FMS parliaments are expected to choose senators for the 54-seat Upper House this month before 27,775 electoral delegates representing Somali clans elect members of parliament. At the beginning of October, the deputies will choose the parliamentary leaders who will then choose a new president.

Outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo, whose term expired on February 8, is seeking to defend the siege but faces stiff competition. Among others, Farmaajo will fight with former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as well as former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire, among others.

Stakeholders have raised questions about the possible infiltration of Al-Shabaab into the exercise, which could end up producing supporters or even members of Al-Shabaab in the next parliament. The control of delegates has been strengthened.

Last week, Jubaland state warned elders against association with the group, arguing those convicted would be removed from the list of delegates. Somalia still practices indirect elections where elders have a huge role to play alongside their original clans.

It is not known where or when Abu Ubaidah’s speech was recorded, but he mentions the militant group’s attack on Bosaso prison in March, the extension of the mandate of the Somali parliament in April and the political stalemate that has follow-up speaks volumes.

The group raided Bosaso prison in Northeastern State in March, where a number of prisoners escaped. A month later, Farmaajo attempted to extend his term but was categorically rejected by various stakeholders, leading to a consensus meeting that paved the way for elections.



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