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Former minister elected regional president in Somalia  

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- A former Somali government minister was on Wednesday elected president of the South West State after beating four other candidates in a hotly contested race, the committee announced on Wednesday.

Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed, former minister of energy and water resources and popularly known as Laftagareen, emerged as the winner in the election in which a total of 149 legislators participated.

The regional state elections committee announced “Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed got 101 votes while his closest rival got 22 votes. Mohamed is now the president of South West.”

The election faced several delays amid row between regional leaders and federal government.

Former al-Shabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow who was the main challenger was arrested and barred from contesting in the elections by the Somali government, citing international sanctions.



Somalia and Ethiopian forces maintain tight security ahead of regional polls

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- Somali and Ethiopian forces have cordoned off parts of Baidoa town in South West State, Somalia as they imposed tight security in the area ahead of the regional state presidential elections on Wednesday.

Five candidates, among them former minister and Somali intelligence chief, are contesting for the state presidency.

The security forces could be seen at strategic points in the town and the presidential palace where the elections will take place.

“Our security forces are stationed in every corner of the city with support of AMISOM (the African Union Mission in Somalia) forces. We hope the elections will take place peacefully,” Ali Aden, a police officer in Baidoa, told Xinhua.

State lawmakers have been streaming to the venue of the vote which had generated disputes between the regional state leaders and the federal government.

Former al-Shabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow was arrested and withdrawn from the race last week by Somali government which said Robow was still under international sanctions.

A total of 149 legislators are expected to cast their vote for the second president since the South West State was formed four years ago.


United States launch two airstrikes in Somalia, killing 11 militants

MOGADISHU Somalia (Xinhua) -- The United States army said Thursday that it conducted two airstrikes on Wednesday, killing 11 al-Shabab militants outside Somalia’s capital.

The U.S. Africa Command (Africom) said in a statement that the two airstrikes targeting al-Shabab militants in the vicinity of Beled Amin South, about 40km north of Mogadishu, were in self-defense.

According to the statement, Somali and African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) forces were conducting an operation in the region to clear known al-Shabab facilities when al-Shabab militants maneuvered on and engaged the combined force.

“U.S. personnel were present during the mission in an advisory capacity. No partner or U.S. service members were harmed during the operation,” Africom said, adding that no civilians were injured or killed in the airstrikes.

“We currently assess the first strike killed eight militants and we currently assess the second strike killed three militants,” Africom said.

According to the statement, the militant group is using the area around Beled Amin South to plan and execute attacks against Somalia’s capital.

The U.S. forces alongside Somali and African Union forces have increased ground and air offensives against the militant group in the past months.


Arab League chief voices support for development in Somalia

CAIRO Egypt (Xinhua) -- Arab League (AL) Secretary General Ahmed Aboul-Gheit held talks on Tuesday with Somali Finance Minister Abdirahman Duale Beileh on means of promoting Arab support for Mogadishu city.

Aboul-Gheit stressed the AL’s commitment to supporting Somalia in order to establish security and stability, AL’s spokesman Mahmoud Afifi said in a statement.

The two-day plenary meeting, which the AL hosts in its headquarters in Cairo, is meant to stand on the Somali government’s needs and priorities in the coming years in order to achieve development, the statement added.

It added the AL will mobilize the Arab countries’ efforts to support the Somali development plans.

The Somali minister voiced appreciation for the AL efforts, especially Aboul-Gheit’s initiative to hold the plenary meeting.


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