Lawmakers in a volatile region of Somalia elected the federal government’s preferred candidate as its leader on Wednesday after a popular former al Shabaab leader was barred from running in the vote seen as test of the country’s political progress. As part of an internationally backed attempt to end decades of lawlessness by spreading power more widely among the multiple clans, states are meant to be more independent of central government, with the authority to select their own leaders. But any sign that that is being subverted in practice or a sense that a leader is being imposed by stealth by the central government could further stoke instability and violence.
At least 11 people were killed last week in the South West state capital of Baidoa in clashes that erupted following the arrest of Mukhtar Robow, the former Islamist militant leader who had tried to contest in the thrice-delayed poll.
The South West state parliament selected Abdiasis Hassan Mohamed, who has held two national cabinet posts, giving him the necessary two thirds of the vote. State parliaments, not the wider public, vote for regional presidents in Somalia.