Somalia to hold presidential election on May 15

Somalia to hold presidential election on May 15
Election is over a year behind schedule, marred by power struggle between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and PM Mohamed Hussein Roble (R). (File/AFP)
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Updated 05 May 2022

Somalia to hold presidential election on May 15

Somalia to hold presidential election on May 15
  • Somalia’s international partners have been pushing for the process to pick up speed
  • A $400-million IMF aid package will automatically expire by mid-May if a new administration is not in place by then

MOGADISHU: Somalia will hold presidential elections on May 15, state TV announced Thursday, broadcasting a statement by a parliamentary committee tasked with organizing the long-delayed polls in the fragile Horn of Africa nation.
The election is well over a year behind schedule, marred by deadly violence as well as a power struggle between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
Somalia’s international partners have been pushing for the process to pick up speed, fearing the delays sap efforts to tackle entrenched problems, including the fight against Al-Shabab extremists and the threat of famine.
“In consideration with the current circumstances of the country, the members agreed 15 May to be the day for the election of the president,” Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu, a member of the parliament election committee, said in a Facebook post on Thursday.
A three-year $400-million (380-million-euro) aid package from the International Monetary Fund (IMF) will automatically expire by mid-May if a new administration is not in place by then, a move that would plunge the country into deeper peril.
After Farmajo’s term ended in February 2021 without a new vote taking place, he attempted to extend his rule by decree, triggering violent street battles in Mogadishu as rival factions clashed.
Following international pressure, he appointed Roble to seek consensus on a way forward
But the process has progressed painfully, stoking fears of further instability.
In addition to the feud between Farmajo and Roble, the central government has also been embroiled in disputes with certain states, slowing down the voting process.
The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabab, which has been fighting the government for over a decade, has staged frequent attacks in recent months, including a suicide bombing in March that killed two local lawmakers.
On Tuesday, an attack on an African Union (AU) base killed 10 Burundian peacekeepers, according to Burundi’s army. It was the deadliest raid on AU forces in the country since 2015.
As the militants have ratcheted up their assaults, the rift between Farmajo and Roble has continued to widen, with the election of the lower house speaker delayed last week by a dispute over who should provide security at the voting venue.
Meanwhile the country is grappling with a worsening drought which threatens to drive millions into famine, with young children facing the greatest risk.
Thursday’s announcement “will come as a major relief for most Somalis and their international partners, as it signals the end of an electoral cycle that has dragged on for way too long and distracted from other priorities,” said Omar Mahmood, an analyst at the International Crisis Group (ICG) think tank.
“The rapid pace of developments over the past few weeks clearly points to momentum and a desire to wrap all of this up,” Mahmood told AFP.
Somalia has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years. Polls follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who in turn choose the president.
Al-Shabab extremists controlled Mogadishu until 2011 when they were pushed out by an AU force, but still hold territory in the countryside.
The militants regularly strike at civilian, military and government targets in Somalia’s capital and elsewhere in the country.


Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
Updated 10 sec ago

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan

Gunmen kill 2 policemen escorting polio workers in Pakistan
PESHAWAR, Pakistan: Gunmen riding on motorcycles opened fire on Tuesday on police escorting a team of polio workers in northwestern Pakistan, killing two policemen, authorities said.
None of the polio workers were harmed, said Mohammad Imran, a local police official. The four polio workers and their police escort were all traveling on motorcycles.
The assailants fled the scene and no one immediately claimed responsibility for the attack in the town of Gomal, in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province bordering Afghanistan.
The attack came on the second day of Pakistan’s latest anti-polio campaign in the province. Pakistan has registered 14 new polio cases since April, all from Khyber Pakhtunkhwa province.
The outbreak has been a blow to the Islamic nation’s efforts to eradicate the disease, which can cause severe paralysis in children.
Pakistan’s anti-polio campaigns are regularly marked by violence as Islamic militants often target polio teams and police protecting them, falsely claiming that the vaccination campaigns are a Western conspiracy to sterilize children.
Pakistan and Afghanistan are the only countries in the world where polio remains endemic. In 2021, Pakistan reported only one case, raising hopes it was close to eradicating polio.

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
Updated 28 min 19 sec ago

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan

Russian leader Vladimir Putin lashes out at US over Ukraine, Taiwan
  • ‘The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict’
  • ‘We see this as a carefully planned provocation’

MOSCOW: Russian President Vladimir Putin on Tuesday accused Washington of seeking to prolong the conflict in Ukraine and of fueling conflicts elsewhere in the world, including with the visit of US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi to Taiwan.
“The situation in Ukraine shows that the US is trying to prolong this conflict. And they act in exactly the same way, fueling the potential for conflict in Asia, Africa and Latin America,” Putin said in televised remarks, addressing the opening ceremony of a security conference in Moscow via videolink.
“The American adventure in relation to Taiwan is not just a trip of an individual irresponsible politician, but part of a purposeful, conscious US strategy to destabilize and make chaotic the situation in the region and the world,” he added.
He said the visit was a “brazen demonstration of disrespect for the sovereignty of other countries and for its (Washington’s) international obligations.”
“We see this as a carefully planned provocation,” Putin said.
Relations between Moscow and Washington have been in tatters since Russia in late February launched a military intervention in pro-Western Ukraine.
Pummeled by a barrage of unprecedented Western sanctions, Putin has sought to bolster ties with countries in Africa and Asia, especially with China.
Moscow was in full solidarity with key ally Beijing during Pelosi’s August visit to self-ruled, democratic Taiwan, which China considers its territory.


Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges
Updated 16 August 2022

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

Iran says Swedish citizen detained for espionage might face other charges

DUBAI: A Swedish citizen detained in Iran on suspicion of espionage might face other charges, Iranian judiciary spokesperson Masoud Setayeshi said on Tuesday in a televised news conference.
The suspect, who remains unnamed, had been under surveillance by the intelligence ministry during several previous trips to Iran because of “suspicious behavior,” the official IRNA news agency reported in July.


Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
Updated 16 August 2022

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20

Bus rams into fuel truck in eastern Pakistan, killing 20
  • The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi
  • Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws

MULTAN, Pakistan: A passenger bus rammed into a fuel truck on a highway in eastern Pakistan before dawn on Tuesday, igniting a fire that killed at least 20 people, police and rescue officials said.
According to the officials, the accident happened near the town of Jalalpur Peerwala in Punjab province. The bus was traveling from the eastern city of Lahore to the southern port city of Karachi.
Tahir Wattoo, a local government official in Multan, the nearest district, said early indications were that the bus driver’s negligence had caused the collision. The driver, who was also killed, slammed into the back of the fuel truck, according to photographs from the scene.
The injured were taken to hospital and at least six passengers were reported in critical condition, he added.
Some of the bodies were burned beyond recognition and DNA tests will be conducted to identify the remains before the bodies are handed over to the families, Wattoo also said.
Prime Minister Shahbaz Sharif offered his condolences in a statement and asked health authorities to provide the best possible treatment to the injured.
Deadly traffic accidents are common in Pakistan due to poor road infrastructure and disregard for traffic laws.


Armenian blast death toll rises to 16

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16
Updated 16 August 2022

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16

Armenian blast death toll rises to 16
  • Sunday’s blast at the Surmalu wholesale market also injured 60 people
  • Local authorities have excluded the possibility that it was a terror attack

YEREVAN: The death toll from an explosion at a bustling market in the Armenian capital Yerevan rose to 16, Armenia’s emergency situations ministry said on Tuesday.
Sunday’s blast at the Surmalu wholesale market also injured 60 people after it caused a fire and the collapse of a building.
“Sixteen bodies were found during search and rescue efforts,” the ministry said in a statement, adding that 18 people were still missing.
Officials said more than 350 rescuers are at work on the ground.
The cause has not yet been established, but local news reports, citing witnesses, said the explosion went off at a place that stored fireworks.
Local authorities have excluded the possibility that it was a terror attack and prosecutors have already launched a probe into violations “on stocking inflammable goods,” breaches in fire safety standards and the death of people “due to negligence.”
The disaster comes as the country of three million people is still recovering from a 2020 war with Azerbaijan, which ended in a heavy defeat and sparked a political crisis.
Shortly after Sunday’s blast, officials evacuated people from Yerevan metro stations after a bomb threat, but authorities found no explosive device.