Security has been beefed up in the Somali capital Mogadishu as final preparations for the election of the President of the Federal Government of Somalia are finalized.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.

Brig Gen Keith Katungi, the Ugandan military Contingent commander in Somalia, in whose sector the elections will be held, assured Somalis that the elections will be peaceful and they have deployed heavily not to give any chance to peace destabilizers.

Joint patrols among different Somalia security forces, including Somalia National Army (SNA) Somalia National Police, and National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) were conducted within Mogadishu city.

Brig Gen Katungi is closely working with the National security election committee chairman Gen Abdi Hassan Hijar, who also doubles as the Police Chief of Somalia National Police (SNP). However, the inner security, including securing of the venue is under the Uganda Peoples Defence Forces.

The final process leading to the election of the President, expected on Sunday 15th May 2022, begun on 11th May with candidates presenting their manifestos and programs to the electorate.

The electorate comprises 372 Members of Parliament elected from federal member states. 275 are elected from regions by clan leaders and constitute the lower house, while 54 of the electorates form the upper house also known as the Senate.

Brig Gen Keith Katungi met several stakeholders including the newly elected speaker of the Upper house, Hon Abdi Hashi Abdullahi and briefed him on the security arrangements for the MPs among other issues.

Hon Abdi Hashi thanked UPDF for the work done since the election and swearing-in of the Speakers of both houses late last month. “We are satisfied with the security arrangements so far.”

39 candidates so far have shown interest in this Presidential election among them including, 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.

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.

Following international pressure, he appointed Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to seek consensus on a way forward, but progress has been painfully sluggish, dogged by claims of irregularities and political interference.

The growing rift between the two men has not helped matters, while the central government has also been embroiled in disputes with certain states, further slowing down the voting process.