Gun vs poll: Somali minister involved in gun fight over poll dispute

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by Ahmed Mohamed

MOGADISHU – In an attempt to evade an apparent loss of a parliamentary seat race to his rival candidate, Somali sports minister Mohamed Abdullahi Nuh instigated a fracas at a polling center in the agricultural Somali town of Jowhar, before he instructed security guards to fire an opponent’s delegates, Alleastafrica has learnt.

Witnesses told Alleastafrica that an intelligence officer who was working under instructions from the minister pointed a gun at a technician to turn off the lights causing chaos just before the second round of the vote was about to be conducted.

It emerged after the first round of voting that none of the candidates had attained the requisite 50+1 to win the seat thus necessitating a second round note.

As the scuffle was brought to an end following an intervention by security forces, voting resumed that saw the minister who barely scored 22 votes lost the race against his opponent Ahmed Sheikh Nur who had scored 24 votes.

However, the chaos which is seen as an attempt to interrupt the polls had taken up again shortly after as the delegates of Mr. Nur who outperformed the minister in the voting were sprayed with bullets. Two people who were caught in the crossfire sustained injuries.

The chaos which has drawn condemnations by officials and ordinary citizens saw Somalia’s Federal Electoral body known as FIEIT announced that it was calling off the ongoing regional elections in Hir-Shabelle state until investigations into the matter were concluded.

Nevertheless, elders from the Gugundhabe clan of which Mr. Nur hails from have signed a petition calling for cancellation of a possible second round of voting, calling the body to declare  him as the substantive winner.

Meanwhile, the United Nations special envoy to Somalia Michael Keateng alongside Somali intelligence chief General Abdullahi Gafow who visited Jowhar town on Sunday discussed the development with electoral officials and stakeholders.

“We met to consider to crisis in jowhar (Interclan militia fighting).” said Antony Howie, Senior Electoral Security Advisor, an integrated support group of United Nations assistance mission of Somalia in email circulated among the UN and Somali officials.

However, Somali officials dismissed Mr. Howie’s comment as ‘misleading’, insisting that the clashes were meant to disrupt the vote.

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