The victory of former energy minister, Abdiaziz Abdullahi Mohammed in the South West presidential elections has boosted efforts by President Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” to exert his influence in the regional states.
Mogadishu openly supported Mr Mohammed, commonly known as Laftagareen, by not only providing him with logistics but also ensuring that his main challenger, Sheikh Mukhtar Robow — a former Al Shabaab deputy leader and spokesperson — stayed out of the race after being arrested.
A win for the candidate sponsored by the centre in the December 19 means that out of the five regional states that suspended their co-operation with Mogadishu in September, only Jubbaland and Puntland and Galmudug are holding out.
Abdullahi Abdi Mohamed, the chairman of the Aratgi Wadaag political think tank based in Mogadishu, said that this is a signal to the leaders of the three states that the central government will also be coming for them. Puntland holds elections next month.
In a contest that involved five candidates, Mr Laftagareen got 103 votes of the 147 MPs, his closest challenger, Aden Saransor got 22 votes in an election that was conducted by parliament.
Mr Laftagareen campaigned on the platform of peace and unity and had promised bring South West close to the centre unlike his predecessor, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden who was antagonistic to Mogadishu. Sheikh Aden had resigned in November and withdrew from the elections.
The government of President Farmajo was determined to influence the outcome by supplying Mr Laftagareen with logistics. Before the latter arrived in South West in October to start his campaigns, a cargo plane carrying bulletproof vehicles for the former minister landed at Baidoa’s Shati-Gadud airport to ensure his security.
The polls was conducted in a tense atmosphere produced by demonstrations against the government of Mr Farmajo early in the week following the arrest of Sheikh Robow. The Ethiopian contingent of the African peacekeepers provided security during the voting.
The east African