Officials and elders in the Southwestern State accused Somali government of using its resources to interfere in the region’s upcoming election process in favor of certain candidates allied to it, a charge dismissed by the government.
More than ten candidates are running for the regional election which is scheduled to take place by Nov 17. As the election campaigns entered its final stages, the region’s traditional elders accused Somali government of being biased against certain candidates in favor of other rival candidates allied with it.
The date for which the regional election would take place would coincide the day the regional state was re-established in 2009.
“The government must stop its obvious interference and bias against some candidates – we want to maintain peace,” said the spokesman of the region’s traditional elders’ council in a meeting attended by dozens of elders in Baidoa town, the base of the state on Sunday.
“This has to stop – we have enough experience about civil unrests and we don’t want to see anymore conflicts being created here.” He warned, echoing previous similar charges against the government by the region’s leaders.
He didn’t give specific details about the interference charges he leveled against the government which has subsequently dismissed it as ‘groundless’.
Among the candidates running for the presidency is the powerful regional president and a former Somali parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Mr. Aden who wields a significant influence in the region’s day-to-day politics is facing tough challenges in his bid to win the election which is expected to be a highly contested one for the second time as opposition candidates want to join hands in an attempt to unseat the veteran politician.
Aden has been involved in the Southwestern politics since it was re-established as a Federal Member State of Somalia in 2009.
Critics accuse of him of ruling with iron fist and bribery, with many in the region demand a new era of change with the need for more accountable and transparent leader.
The former Somali intelligence chief Hussein Osman Hussein and the former deputy leader of the al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group Sheikh Mukhtar Robow who defected the group late last year and surrendered to the government are also among top candidates running in the upcoming regional election.