Al Shabab founder to contest elections in Somalia

"Mukhtar Robow (C) was a spokesman for al-Shabab before he defected." /BBC
"Mukhtar Robow (C) was a spokesman for al-Shabab before he defected." /BBC

A former commander of militant Islamist group al-Shabab has announced that he is running for public office in Somalia.

Mukhtar Robow left the group in 2012, and surrendered to the government in August last year.

He says he will be contesting the presidency of South-West state in next month’s regional elections following requests from people in the area.

Mr Robow has expressed his willingness, if he wins, to forge a strong relationship with the federal government, which has been feuding with some state administrations.

A founder of al-Shabab, he is the highest ranking militant to defect from the group.

In 2000 he trained with al-Qaeda in Afghanistan.

He quit al-Shabab because of what he called ideological differences, and then led his own militant group, which fought against al-Shabab.

In June last year, following reports that Robow was in talks with the Somali government, the US State Department removed him from its terror list and scrapped a £5m (£3.85m) reward for his capture.

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