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Somali Minister Resigns Over Arrest of Former Al-Shabab Leader

FILE - Former al-Shabab leader Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur attends a news conference in Mogadishu, Somalia, Aug. 15, 2017.

Somalia federal Minister for Public Works Abdifitaah Ibrahim Geeseey has resigned over the arrest and exclusion of a former al-Shabab leader from a regional election.

Speaking to VOA via telephone Sunday from Mogadishu, Geeseey said he resigned in protest against his government's interference in the upcoming South West election and its move to arrest Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansur, the former deputy leader of al-Shabab, who was a top candidate for the presidency of South West state in the upcoming election.

Meanwhile, a tense calm has returned to the town of Baidoa following three days of deadly clashes between Robow's supporters and security forces that left 12 people dead.

Authorities said on Saturday at least 200 civilians were arrested following the violence.

On Saturday, Somalia Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman called for Robow's unconditional release and the postponement of the regional election.

The speaker urged the government to respect the constitution and stop meddling in the internal affairs of the South West state.

The Somalia government accuses Robow, who was arrested Thursday, of bringing Islamic militants and weapons back to Baidoa, the capital of South West state.