Somalia uproar continues after former Al-Shabab No. 2 seized

A Somali official says Ethiopian troops that are part of the African Union forces supporting the Somali government have arrested Mukhtar Robow in Baidoa. (File/AP)
Updated 15 December 2018
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Somalia uproar continues after former Al-Shabab No. 2 seized

  • Muhktar Robow was the former No. 2 leader of the Al-Shabab extremist group, who has been a leading candidate for a regional presidency
  • His arrest is seen as a high-profile test of Somalia’s treatment of defectors from the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, Africa’s most active extremist group

NAIROBI, Kenya: A third day of protests began Saturday in Somalia over the arrest of the former No. 2 leader of the Al-Shabab extremist group, who has been a leading candidate for a regional presidency. Officials said at least eight people have been killed so far as angry supporters take to the streets.
The African Union peacekeeping mission in Somalia in a statement released overnight called for “utmost restraint” after the gunfire-fueled uproar around Muhktar Robow’s arrest on Thursday in Baidoa, and it denied playing any role.
His arrest is seen as a high-profile test of Somalia’s treatment of defectors from the Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, Africa’s most active extremist group. Somalia’s government welcomed the defection last year by Al-Shabab’s former spokesman but not his popular candidacy to lead Southwest state, which took some officials by surprise.
Robow was seized by Ethiopian troops accompanied by Somali police, witnesses told The Associated Press. He was flown to the capital, Mogadishu, a Somali intelligence official said. All spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to speak to reporters or for safety concerns.
Some Somali lawmakers had accused the AU mission of being involved.
Ethiopia’s military, which contributes troops to the AU mission, has not commented. Robow’s arrest could re-ignite old tensions between Somalia and neighboring Ethiopia despite recent diplomatic breakthroughs in the Horn of Africa sparked by Ethiopia’s reformist new prime minister.
Somalia’s security ministry confirmed Robow’s arrest, citing the federal government’s earlier ban on his candidacy, which said he had not completed the defection process. The ministry also alleged that Robow had failed to renounce extremist ideology, and accused him of mobilizing armed forces to threaten the security of Baidoa.
Somali officials have announced that the election for the Southwest presidency will go ahead on Wednesday, even after Robow was arrested. His local supporters in Baidoa have loudly protested.
A new joint statement by the United States, more than a dozen countries, the AU mission and the United Nations expresses concern, deploring the violence, urging dialogue and urging all parties to “to respect the integrity of the electoral process.”
Robow’s controversial campaign has further exposed the rift between Somalia’s federal government based in Mogadishu and regional governments, who in recent months have effectively severed cooperation with the capital over multiple grievances.


Theresa May survives UK parliament vote of no confidence in her government

Updated 8 min 38 sec ago
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Theresa May survives UK parliament vote of no confidence in her government

  • Had the government lost, Britain would have faced an election within weeks
  • The House of Commons expressed confidence in the government by 325 votes to 306

LONDON: British Prime Minister Theresa May's government has survived a no-confidence vote called after May's Brexit deal was overwhelmingly rejected by lawmakers.
The House of Commons expressed confidence in the government by 325 votes to 306, meaning May can remain in office.
Had the government lost, Britain would have faced an election within weeks while preparing to leave the European Union on March 29.
Despite the reprieve, May faces a monumental struggle to find a way out of her country's Brexit impasse. She has until Monday to come up with a new blueprint for Britain's EU exit after the deal she reached with the EU went down to a crushing defeat in Parliament on Tuesday.