President of Somali state of Jubbaland re-elected in divisive vote

GAROWE, Somalia (Reuters) – The president of Somalia’s southern Jubbaland state, a region still partly held by al Shabaab, won a fresh term in office on Thursday, the parliamentary speaker said, amid heightened strains between the federal government and regional officials.

Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, a top security partner for neighboring Kenya, which helps Somalia fight the militant group, won 56 of the 74 votes cast by lawmakers in the regional parliament, speaker Cabdi Maxamed Abdirahmaan, said.

The central government in Mogadishu said on Saturday it would not recognize the vote’s result, saying the candidate selection process had violated the national constitution.

It has accused Madobe of interfering in the process and has backed opposition candidates, who were rejected by the electoral commission when they attempted to register.

“I am ready to sit and speak with all people, including the opposition. I will speak and work with anyone who has a complaint,” Madobe told parliament after the vote.

The barred opposition candidates said they held their own vote in the Jubbaland port city of Kismayo on Thursday, electing Abdirashid Mohamed Hidig, a move likely to inflame tensions between the state and central government.

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