Regional election in southern Somalia raises concern about al-Shabaab’s influence

The southernmost state of Somalia will vote in regional elections today after a short delay stemming from accusations that incumbent

jubbaland protests

Photo: KS/File

The southernmost state of Somalia will vote in regional elections today after a short delay stemming from accusations that incumbent President Ahmed Mohamed Madobe barred other candidates from running.

Victory for the incumbent in today’s election is likely to strengthen the hand of local Islamist insurgents. On December 2010, Hizbul Islam, a militant group associated with President Madobe, merged with al-Shabaab. This has allowed al-Shabaab increased influence in local government.

Neighbours Kenya and Ethiopia, which both border Somalia, have both expressed concern over the outcome of these elections and their implications for al-Shabaab’s presence in region. Kenya has worked closely with President Madobe in counterterrorism and regional security efforts. However, Ethiopia has allied with the federal government out of a concern that Madobe has allied with al-Shabaab.

After an airport in southern Somalia refused to allow an Ethiopian plane to land, Somalia’s federal government has refused to recognise the results of the upcoming election. Regardless of the outcome, it is expected that Kenya, Ethiopia, and the government of Somalia take strong action to bolster security and prepare for instability.

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