Friday October 5, 2018
MOGADISHU (HOL) – Somali government has excluded a former leader for the Al-Qaeda linked al-Shabab group from the list of candidates running for a regional state’s presidency, in a major blow for the Islamist-turned politician who has just declared his bid for the seat on Thursday.
Sheikh Mukhtar Robow, a former charismatic militant who was once the deputy leader of al-Shabab group in Somalia has defected the group and surrendered to the government mid last year.
The United States has since lifted a $5 million bounty placed on information leading to the capture, a development which encouraged him to consider running for political positions followed by a political campaign in which he declared his candidacy for Southwestern State’s presidency.
However, Somali government which is reported to have been financing Mr. Robow’s political campaign has reversed its course on Thursday, saying that he failed to meet the minimum requirements presented by the international community for him to lift all sanctions placed on him before he takes a political position.
The development has dealt a major blow on Robow who spoke to his supporters in Baidoa, his hometown in southwestern Somalia where lawmakers are expected to elect a new president for the region’s Southwestern State later this year.
It remains unclear whether the decision which came as surprise for many was taken by the government as result of pressure by the international community.
But the snubbing of the former lslamist’s standing has left many in the town concerned over what could come next for their candidate who would have to join a list of several candidates trying to challenge the long-serving regional president and former Somali parliament speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden in the election which is expected to be highly-contested, with opposition candidates want to join hands in their bid to unseat the veteran politician.
Aden, who has been involved in the Southwestern politics since it was re-established as an Federal Member State of Somalia in 2009.
Critics accuse of him of ruling with iron fist and bribery, with many in the region demand a new era of change with the need for more accountable and transparent leader.
Mr. Robow hasn’t yet commented on the development which comes as his region has entered campaign mode as candidates have intensified politicking in recent weeks.