Somalia’s government has issued a sharp “no” to the candidacy of a high-level al-Shabab defector for a regional presidency.
A statement by the internal security ministry says Mukhtar Robow is not eligible to run for the leadership of the South West region because he is still under sanctions.
Robow is the highest-ranking official to have ever quit the al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab. He surrendered to the government last year after the United States cancelled a $5 million reward offered for his capture.
He remains under U.S. sanctions imposed against him in 2008 when he was identified as a “specially designated global terrorist.”
Robow announced his candidacy for the regional presidency this week, joining several candidates challenging former Somali parliament speaker and incumbent regional president Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden. The election is Nov. 17.
The former al-Shabab leader caused a minor sensation shortly after the massive truck bombing in Mogadishu a year ago when photos showed him donating blood for victims. He also called the Oct. 14 bombing that killed well over 500 people an “irreligious” and “heartless” act.