Somali elections: Mogadishu traffic ban ahead of presidential vote

Traffic in Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, on streets with election campaign poster - December 2016 Image copyright AFP

A traffic ban has been imposed and major roads sealed off in the Somali capital, Mogadishu, ahead of Wednesday’s presidential election.

Correspondents said most schools and offices remained open but people had had to walk to reach their destination.

MPs will gather at the airport on Wednesday to elect a new head of state.

There have been fears that militant Islamist group al-Shabab, which has carried out many attacks in Mogadishu, may try to disrupt the election.

The airport is viewed as the most secure site in the Somali capital and voting was moved there from a police academy because of growing security concerns.

Wednesday’s security measures will include a ban on flights to and from Mogadishu airport.

Analysts say holding the election in the airport environment may also reduce the possibility of vote buying or other corruption in the election process.

Media captionA 60-second guide to the unique way Somalia is electing its new president

More than 20 candidates are vying to become Somali president, with the top three proceeding to a second round of voting and the top two from that round going forward to a third and final vote.

Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud is standing for re-election and analysts say he is likely to be one of those who goes forward to the later rounds.

Results are expected on Wednesday afternoon.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the fall of the Siad Barre regime in 1991. The Mogadishu-based government is backed by an African Union force, Amisom, made up of more than 22,000 troops and police, as well as civilian staff.

Al-Shabab has a presence in much of the southern third of the country and has carried out many attacks in Mogadishu.

It has previously attacked the Somali parliament, presidential palace, courts, hotels and the fortified airport zone.

At least 19 politicians, as well as civilians and soldiers have been killed in its assaults.

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