Somali lawmakers gather at airport to vote for president

Wed Feb 8, 2017 8:09am GMT

* Lawmakers due to start voting around 0900 GMT

* Several rounds expected before winner emerges

* President Mohamud has backers but win not guaranteed

* Al Shabaab Islamists threaten attacks

By Abdi Sheikh and Feisal Omar

MOGADISHU, Feb 8 (Reuters) - Somali lawmakers gathered behind the blast walls of the capital's airport on Wednesday to elect their president, after months of delays and following threats from Islamist insurgents bent on derailing the process.

The protracted vote began with 14,000 elders and prominent regional figures choosing 275 members of parliament and 54 senators, who in turn now choose whether to back President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud for a second term or one of 21 rivals.

The presidential vote, which was originally slated for August, is due to start at about noon (0900 GMT). It is likely to take several rounds before a winner is declared.

President Mohamud, who has led the country since 2012 in the effort to rebuild after more than two decades of war and chaos, has the support of about a third of lawmakers, experts say, giving him an edge but not a guarantee of victory.   Continued...

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