Somalia: Militias Loyal to Opposition Threaten to Disrupt Elections with Attacks

MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – Heavily armed militias loyal to Somalia’s opposition presidential candidates have threatened to disrupt partial elections announced by Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble on Saturday despite absence of opposition leaders and two regional states.

On Saturday, Somali government announced it would go ahead to hold elections following a meeting with the presidents of Galmudug, Hirshabelle and Southwest amid differences over the composition of the electoral board, presence of troops in Gedo and the election of MPs from Somaliland.

Opposition leaders met in the capital hours later and accused the government of moving ahead with a partial election and ignoring calls for resolving the dispute through dialogue, which had been earlier made by the international community and Somali civil society members.

A day after the government’s decision, a video depicting a sprawling military-style convoy of militias loyal to the opposition circulated on social media on Sunday.

Local media reported that the militias showed their might on the outskirts of Mogadishu and in the video they could be seen walking in fatigues alongside a seemingly endless procession of military vehicles. Their commanders threatened to prevent government announced partial election from taking place.

Politicians including MPs have immediately commented on the video and raised fears that president’s bid to cling to power might plunge the country into civil war.

Parliamentarian Mahad Salad speaking shortly after the video went viral both on Facebook and Twitter on Sunday, said after watching the video he was “concerned that president Farmajo was leading the country in the wrong direction.”

It comes weeks after reports emerged that the opposition mobilized clan militias and members of the army to defend their presidential candidates from possible attacks by government troops as stalemate over upcoming elections spirals out of control.

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