Ex-Alshabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow on hunger strike to push for lifting of his house arrest
Ex-Alshabab deputy leader Mukhtar Robow has embarked on a hunger strike in a bid to push for his release from house arrest. Sources said that for the days the former presidential candidate for the South West state had opted for no food ina bid to get the government reverse his house arrest which has been in place since 2018. Much has changed for Mukhtar “Abu Mansur” Robow. Robow led the jihadists not only in their fight against the Somali government and allied international forces but also in their enactment of territorial governance and implementation of a harsh form of Islamic law (shari’a). That month, according to an al-Shabaab communiqué from the time, he and other senior al-Shabaab officials delivered public speeches announcing the jihadist-insurgent rulers’ new system of law and order. Ten years later, in October 2018, Robow, who once condemned democracy as “unbelief” (kufr), announced his candidacy for the presidency of Somalia’s South West State. The country’s federal government maintains ever-fluctuating, often combative relations with the administrations of regional states. Robow’s announcement set off an intense debate about the prospects of an ex-jihadist gaining a leadership position through democratic elections. His campaign shook up Somali federal and regional politics. But the federal government, backed by Ethiopian military forces, ultimately blocked him from participating and eventually detained him. His detention, which his supporters saw as the result of the federal government’s blatant interference in South West State’s regional government and an attempt to broaden federal power over the regional states, raised concerns from Somali politicians and international organizations — including the United Nations — about the rule of law, the federal executive branch sliding toward authoritarian tendencies, and the harming of counter-terrorism and counter-insurgency efforts.