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Somalia delays landmark regional vote for the third time as tensions rise

Somalia delays landmark regional vote for the third time as tensions rise

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Somalia’s South West state will delay a key presidential vote for the third time because it is not sufficiently prepared, the semi-autonomous region’s election committee said on Saturday.

Tensions between the federal government and state authorities have mounted in recent weeks after Mogadishu tried to block the candidacy of former al Shabaab Islamist militant Mukhtar Robow.

“After the committee evaluated the many activities awaiting, available time and the incomplete tasks to be completed within a short time frame…, (it) decided the election date will be 19 December,” a committee statement said.

The original date for the election was Nov. 17 before its initial postponement to Nov. 28 and then to Dec. 5.

South West is slated to be the first of Somalia’s seven semi-autonomous regions to hold presidential elections in the coming months, a critical juncture in a growing power struggle between the central government in Mogadishu and the states.

The postponement in South West state came a day after the central government deployed dozens of federal police officers to Baidoa, the state capital, to help “tighten security”, said Hassan Hussein, South West state security minister.

Further deployments would be made to help prevent al Shabaab destabilising the election, Hussein told reporters on Friday.

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