Somalia to hold long-delayed presidential election

Somalia will hold a long-awaited presidential election on Sunday, ending months of delays, with the new leader set to confront huge challenges including a grinding Islamist insurgency and a punishing drought that has sparked famine fears.

The troubled Horn of Africa nation has been grappling with a political crisis since February 2021, when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s term ended without a new vote.

The 39 candidates include the incumbent, better known as Farmajo, as well as past presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and former prime minister Hassan Ali Kheyre.

Puntland state president Said Abdullahi Dani and former foreign minister Fawzia Yusuf Adan — the lone female contender — are also among the record number of candidates vying for the top job.

All have vowed to tackle Somalia’s myriad problems and bring relief to citizens weary of violence by Al-Shabaab jihadists, surging inflation and worsening drought.

The vote is expected to draw a line under a political crisis that has lasted well over a year, after Farmajo attempted to extend his rule by decree, triggering violent street battles as rival factions clashed in the capital Mogadishu.

(With input from AFP)