Armed soldiers have reportedly blocked the entrance into the voting hall in Beledweyne’s Lamagalay district early Monday morning ahead of a fiercely contested election.
The troops are reportedly protesting against the managing of the parliamentary elections by Hirshabelle leaders, specifically the HOP 059 seat, which is set to be held in the coming days.
The dispute emanates from whether or not the seat – currently held by Samira Hassan Abdulle – should be closed to women candidates exclusively, or whether to open the race to both genders.
Hirshabelle Vice President Yusuf Dabageed is reportedly backing Samira’s re-election bid and is pushing for a women-only ballot that would almost guarantee Ms. Abdulle’s victory.
The soldiers who blocked the road are demanding the race be open to both genders, arguing that the seat was reserved for women for the past election and doing so again would stifle their sub-clan’s voice. They also are unsettled that the incumbent is married to the Speaker of Somalia’s Federal Parliament, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdurahman.
By blocking the entrance into the voting hall, the soldiers have disrupted Hirshabelle’s State Election Implementation Team (SEIT) plans to the polls on Monday morning for the hotly contested HOP 058 election.
Delegates have already begun arriving for the election, which has been postponed several times in recent days without an official explanation. However, there are reports of growing rifts among local community members.
So far, seven candidates have registered for the election, some of whom are influential in Somali politics.
They include Abdullahi Mohamed Ali Sanbaloshe, Yonis Mohamed Nur, Ali Abdullahi Osoble, Abdulkadir Hussein Olow, Mohamud Afdhub Makaran, Abdullahi Ahmed Hussein and Ubah Ali Shegow.