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Somalia steps up security in Mogadishu ahead of election

US Rep. Ilhan Omar (D-MN) (L) talks with Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi (D-CA) during a rally with fellow Democrats before voting on H.R. 1, or the People Act, on the East Steps of the US Capitol on March 08, 2019 in Washington, DC. (AFP photo)
Somali security officers inspect the site of a car bomb attack near the parliament building in the capital Mogadishu November 5, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Somali authorities have begun a lockdown of Mogadishu in order to step up security across the capital ahead of a planned presidential election.

Mohamed Sheikh Hassan Haamud, Somalia's police commander, said on Tuesday that security forces had blocked main roads and barred vehicles from driving near the secure airport compound.

"Police forces will secure the election scene and streets, and the vote will take place peacefully as planned," media quoted the police chief as saying.

National elections to elect members of parliament were scheduled to be held early last year but the government decided to only hold a limited franchise election, where ordinary people have no vote. Parliamentarians have been selected by clan elders over the past few months.

Members of Somalia's new federal parliament are sworn in at General Kahiye Academy in the capital, Mogadishu, December 27, 2016. (Photo by AFP)

After months of delays, 329 newly sworn-in lawmakers will on Wednesday choose whether to back incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for a second term.

The lawmakers will elect president among 21 candidates, who have accused each other of vote-buying. Somalia's electoral system has been riddled with vote buying, corruption, usual clan disputes and significant flaws.

People walk beneath campaign posters of the forthcoming Somali presidential election in Mogadishu, Somalia, December, 20 2016. (Photo by AFP)

Presidential candidates have promised to improve security and economy in the country.

Diplomats say corruption continues to hamper efforts to rebuild the country after years of conflict and rampant militancy.

The Takfiri al-Shabab militant group currently controls swaths of rural areas in Somalia.

The group has been pushed out of the capital and other major cities by the joint forces of the government and the African Union, but it continues to hit Mogadishu despite setbacks.

Somalia has not seen a powerful central government since former dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was toppled by warlords in 1991. Since 2007, some 22,000 peacekeepers have been deployed in Somalia in the form of the multinational African Union force to aid the government in curbing the militancy.

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