Three candidates in the South West presidential race have thrown their weight behind ex-Shabaab number two Mukhtar Robow raising his prospects of clinching the seat in what could put President Mohamed Farmaajo in a legal dilemma since as a U.S citizen, his second country’s laws bar him from dealing with the former Shabaab leader.
The candidates, Mohamed Fargeti (former Finance Minister) Eng. Salah Osman (former Public Works and) and Hassan Mahalin (MP) declared their withdrawal from the race Sunday in favour of Robow.
The exit of the three now leaves six contenders in the race for the South West seat which last month turned into another fierce clash between the Federal Government and Federal Member states. The clash culminated into withdrawal and resignation of President Sharif Sheikh Adan, a veteran politician, and former Federal Parliament speaker.
But of the six, three stand out to win the seat. These are former National spy chief Hussein Osman Hussein, Abdi-Aziz Lafta Green who is the immediate former Labour Minister and Robow himself. Other candidates are Ibraahim Maalin Nuur, Ambassador Sayid Ahmed and Adan Saran Soo. Lafta Green is the Federal Government choice.
Robow’s win could present a significant legal challenge for the Federal Government and President Farmaajo in particular. This is because even though the U.S. government removed the $5 million bounty on Robow’s head and subsequently removed him from sponsors of terror list imposed on him in 2008, U.S. sanction laws which prohibit its citizens dealing with such persons are still in force.
In effect also, U.S. ambassadors to Somalia including newly apointed Donald Yamamoto will be constrained by the same laws from engaging with Robow despite him (Robow) being seen as instrumental in breaking the back of Al-Shabaab in South West regions.
The U.S. removed Robow from the sanctions list last June paving way for his defection to the government in August 2017.
Efforts by the Federal Government early October to bar Robow from running in the December 5 race seem to have hit a snag as the new South West presidential elections committee cleared him this week. A previous committee whose members resigned early this month also approved his eligibility.
Should he be elected, Robow will be sitting in the National Security Council chaired by President Farmaajo hence constant engagement besides other forums in the execution of the mandate of their respective offices.
But despite the potential legal conundrum, the U.S. has not raised questions regarding Robow’s eligibility. The U.S. Mission to Somalia last month commended the formation of the state presidential election committee but kept off comment on the candidates.
“The United States welcomes the creation of the South West State election committee and selection of the leadership team. We look forward to a credible Nov 17 vote for the people of SWS. We support the process but never any specific candidate.”
The poll was later put off to December 5.