Today from Hiiraan Online:  _
Phones confiscated from MPs, Senators ahead of historic vote
Hiiraan Online
Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Mogadishu (HOL) - Voting has begun on Wednesday in the presidential elections amid a complete security lockdown in Mogadishu

328 members of both Houses of Parliament descended on the heavily guarded airport where the vote was being held. Previous plans to host the vote at the police academy were abandoned due to security threats.

Election officials say the expansive security measures are warranted; just yesterday mortar fire rained down on Mogadishu residents.

Accusations of vote-buying, intimidation, and corruption have marred the election campaign. The auditor general has previously said that seats in Parliament - and a chance to vote for the president have sold for as high as $1.3 million

Inside the election hall, fears of corruption are palpable for organizers, journalists and independent observers alike. As a precautionary security measure, the electoral commission has barred all voting MP’s and Senators from entering the airport grounds with their mobile devices, tablets or laptops.

Initially, reporters were told that they too would be barred from bringing in their laptops or cell phones. Some journalists report having their phones confiscated by security personnel but was returned to them before voting began.

Before the historic vote, the race claimed its latest casualty, Zakariye Hagi, who announced that he is dropping out of the contest. He said that quit because of persistent foreign interference saying “some of those who didn’t want me to win are sitting here today.”

Mohamed Osman Jawari, the Speaker of Parliament, cast the first ballot after announcing that only 328 members of the bi-cameral Parliament will be voting, the sole missing candidate was unable to attend due to health concerns

Voting for the first round is currently underway, only four candidates will go on to the second round. A candidate must secure 2/3 of the vote to win the presidency.


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