A former Al Shabaab founder announced Thursday his bid to contest for the presidency of the Southwest State of Somalia.
Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, an ex-deputy commander of the Al Qaeda-linked Islamist militant group, told supporters in Baidoa town, the provisional capital for Southwest State.
His bid was however rejected by the Ministry of Interior that said he cannot run for public office as he is a beneficiary of a presidential pardon and still faces sanctions.
“Although many restrictions against Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur were lifted since he abandoned Al-Shabaab, many restrictions still remain that affect his freedom of movement, his finances and limitations imposed by Interpol,” the statement by the ministry read.
He broke away from Al Shabaab to form a dissident faction in 2012 before surrendering to the Somali government in August last year.
Following his defection, the United States removed him from its terror list and scrapped a $5 million bounty for his capture.
Somalia’s regional states are Puntland, Galmudug, Hirshabelle, Southwest State and Jubaland.
Somaliland declared independence from Somalia in 1991 but is yet to get international recognition.
Residents of Southwest State go to the polls in November to elect the regional president.
The election comes at a time when the federal states are feuding with the central government over suspicions that Mogadishu is sponsoring candidates to depose the states presidents in forthcoming regional polls.