Somalia locks down capital ahead of inauguration

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By AGGREY MUTAMBO

Somalia On Wednesday evening, the capital Mogadishu was cordoned off to secure the site of the inauguration of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud scheduled for Thursday morning.

Prime Minister Hussein Roble said the decision had been taken to allow safe passage for international dignitaries arriving in the country to witness the changing of the guard in Mogadishu. He said the lockdown will last until 5 p.m. local time on Thursday, hours after the inauguration.

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“I respectfully ask the people of Mogadishu to be patient with tonight’s road closures from 10 p.m. until 5 p.m. tomorrow, as international leaders and delegates arrive in the country to witness the inauguration of the President of the Federal Government of Somalia. “, did he declare.

Police and other security agencies will prevent road travel in and out of the city and close the roads around the site, allowing only accredited personnel to pass.

The lockdown came as al-Shabaab fired warning mortar rounds on Wednesday night in a display of their continued disruptions to security in the capital.

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The Somali militant group recently targeted facilities in Mogadishu using roadside bombs and suicide bombers. Somalia last month locked down the city to allow MPs to elect the president, days after al-Shabaab tried to fire mortars at their site in the Green Zone inside the airport .

Mr Mohamud, initially president between 2012 and 2017, won the much-delayed May 15 election this year to serve as president for a second time.

He defeated Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo after three rounds of a secret ballot organized by elected lawmakers in the country. Eyes will be on him to see how he deals with the country’s immediate internal issues, as well as its foreign policy.

Read also : Hassan Mohamud’s welcome return, chance for a Somalia reset

The country is facing a severe drought which, according to Mohamud himself last week, was paralyzing the country. On Tuesday, the UN, citing data from the Famine Early Warning Network and the Food and Agriculture Organization’s Food Security and Nutrition Analysis Unit, said that at least 7 million people, almost half of the country’s population, are now facing a food crisis. insecurity or worse, until at least September 2022.

“Among them, 213,000 people are facing catastrophic hunger and starvation, a drastic increase from the 81,000 expected in April. More areas are at risk of famine, particularly in the south of the country in regions where insecurity and conflict make humanitarian access more difficult,” the agencies said in a joint statement.

Mohamud also has to deal with relations with neighboring countries and the Middle East. His predecessor occasionally bickered with Kenya, with whom they have a long-standing maritime border dispute; as well as Djibouti which Mohamud once accused of siding with Kenya.

Mohamud, who has also sued Kenya in the International Court of Justice (ICJ) over the maritime border, promised to create “a Somalia at peace with itself and with the world”. Last year, the ICJ ruled in favor of Somalia, although Kenya rejected the ruling.

Read also : ICJ verdict on maritime border is a new test for the often fragile relations between Kenya and Somalia

Leaders from the East African region are expected to attend the inauguration, including Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed, Kenyan President Uhuru Kenyatta, Djiboutian President Ismail Omar Guelleh as well as Egyptian Prime Minister Mostafa Kamal Madbouly.

International delegations from Turkey, Saudi Arabia, Qatar, United Arab Emirates (UAE) and Malaysia are also expected.

All of the presidents of Somalia’s federal member states—Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, South West and Jubbaland—are already in Mogadishu for the event.

– Additional reporting by Abdulkadir Khalif

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