GAROWE, SOMALIA – The southern Somali state of Jubbaland blocked access to the capital Kismayo and its main airport before Thursday's vote to elect a president of the semi-autonomous region, a senior regional official said on Tuesday.
"We have closed all approaches to Kismayo to prevent the Somali federal government, which is using all possible ways, including Ethiopian forces, to interrupt the Jubbaland elections," Mohamud Sayid Aden, vice president of Jubbland, told Reuters.
The move underlines the growing tensions between the authorities of Jubbaland and the federal government in Mogadishu, who have tried to exercise control over the electoral process in the last month.
On Saturday, the Somali government declared that it did not recognize the result of the elections to Jubbaland, a key state of the battlefield for counter-terrorism operations, stating that the candidate selection process violated the national constitution.
The stall is likely to trigger a wider and more dangerous conflict.
The current president of Jubbaland Ahmed Mohamed Madobe, who is seeking a re-election this week, is a key security partner for Kenya, while Ethiopia has approached the federal government of Mogadishu in the last year.
Both Ethiopia and Kenya have a significant number of peacekeepers in Somalia.
A division between them would undermine international counter-terrorism operations against al-Shabaab Islamists linked to al-Qaida, security analysts say.