Somalia: Former minister and Villa Somalia candidate elected as new SW state president

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A former Federal minister was elected president of Southwest state after one round of voting by lawmakers in the Baidoa city on Wednesday.

The Electoral Commission announced that Abdiaziz Hassan Mohamed, popularly known as [Lafta Garen], former Somalia’s Energy minister was the winner of the much-delayed presidential election.

The government-backed candidate has garnered a record of 101 votes to defeat his closest rival contender Aden Saransor who got 22 votes. Somalia’s Minister of Interior, Abdi Mohamed Sabriye has witnessed the election.

Under tight security, 149 parliamentarians cast their votes among five candidates, including former Somali Intelligence chief, Hussein Mohamed Hussein to elect a new president through a secret ballot.

Lafta Garen, 48, was sworn-in immediately in the same polling station to start his next four-year term as Southwest regional president. He replaces Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who resigned head of the vote.

He held positions in the past governments in Somalia. Lately, he serves as Energy minister since early this year before resigned last November to run for the top job in the Federal State.

Hundreds of Somali police backed by Ethiopian troops have been deployed in the city’s main streets to prevent from protests during the election that has increasingly been overshadowed by deadly violence.

At least 15 people, including a regional MP, were killed in riots broke out last week after Ethiopian forces arrested former Al-Shabab deputy leader, Mukhtar Robow who seeking election as a regional president.

His detention sparked two-day clashes between Robow’s supporters and security forces.

Somali government tried to bar the former militant’s candidacy, citing remaining U.S. sanctions against him. But the state polls agency last month dismissed Mogadishu’s demands and accepted his candidacy.