somalia
The voting process began late last year with clan elders casting their ballots © AFP/File SIMON MAINA

Agency Report

Reports from Somalia has it that the country’s lawmakers are electing a president under tight security over fears of a strike on the capital by Shabaab militants.

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Roads are said to be closed and residents urged to remain indoors.

Mortar fire hit several neighbourhoods of Mogadishu and fighting broke out between the extremists and African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) just outside the capital on Tuesday evening, according to police and witnesses.

Such shelling is not unusual in Mogadishu and is a common tactic by Al-Qaeda-linked Shabaab militants seeking to make their presence known. No casualties were reported.

However, fears of further violence were palpable, with Mogadishu on lockdown as MPs headed to the site of the election at the airport, situated within a secure compound which is home to diplomats, aid workers and soldiers.

AFP news agency reports that  hundreds of lawmakers, observers and journalists mixed together in a snaking line for manual security checks to gain access to the hangar where the vote is taking place.

Somalia’s election has been billed as its most democratic in nearly five decades, even though only 14,000 delegates were able to vote for MPs in a drawn out process marred by delays and accusations of vote-buying and corruption.