Somalia’s police force says it will begin a lockdown in the capital late Saturday to maintain security for Sunday’s presidential election. As per the directive, city dwellers will have to stay in their homes, while vehicles will also be banned from city roads.
Somali Police Force spokesman Abdifatah Aden Hassan said the ban on foot and vehicular traffic in Mogadishu took effect from 9 p.m. Saturday and would last until 6 a.m. Monday.
He said that realizing the importance of movement of people and vehicles in Mogadishu, the police force still has to ensure the overall security of the country during the presidential election in the Federal Republic of Somalia.
Members of parliament will meet on Sunday in a heavily guarded airport at Mogadishu to choose the next president. Incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo, is seeking re-election against about 40 other candidates.
Professor Abdiwahab Abdisamad, president of the Nairobi-based Institute for Horn of Africa Strategic Studies, thinks the lockdown is unnecessary.
He said, “There is not much danger from outside Mogadishu, even inside Mogadishu. And hopefully, the public will follow the instructions of the country’s security, police and security agents… and hopefully, tomorrow.” The election will go ahead and be one of the most beautiful elections ever held in the country in almost 10 years.
However, Abdurrahman Shaikh of the Center for Analysis and Strategic Studies in Mogadishu argues that the lockdown is a wise move.
He said the curfew imposed on Mogadishu is valid at this time. The police have the authority to provide security as the security at the polling station was transferred to African Union forces.
According to Sheikh, the terrorist group al-Shabaab is a real threat to the elections.
Al-Shabaab has carried out several attacks before the election. Eleven days earlier, the group attacked an African Union base in the central Shabele region, killing at least 30 Burundian soldiers.
The group struck again on Wednesday, killing at least four people at a checkpoint near the airport where the presidential candidate was addressing lawmakers.
The sheikh said there were fears that al-Shabaab would carry out attacks, especially tomorrow and tonight, when elections are expected. There is a possibility of an explosion near Mogadishu Airport.
Al-Shabaab has a proven ability to fire mortar shells that can reach airports and snatch explosives-laden vehicles in the city.
Somali police believe that if the streets of the capital are empty, they can withstand any attack before the disaster strikes.