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Somalia: Important presidential elections take place today - please pray

08 February 2017

Today, 8 February, MPs will be voting for their top candidates in Somalia's presidential elections.

More than 20 candidates, including incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, are competing for the top position in Somalia - which is the second-most difficult country in the world for Christians to practise their faith, according to the Open Doors 2017 World Watch list.

The most popular three candidates will then proceed to a second round of voting, after which the top two will go forward to a third and final vote.

Today's election, which will take place in Mogadishu Airport (considered the safest place in the city), will proceed despite fears of attack from Islamic militant group al-Shabaab - the group has carried out several attacks in the capital in the run-up to the elections.

What does the presidential election mean for Christians?

Christians experience severe persecution in Somalia. And although the elections are being closely watched by international observers, little is expected to change for the small, secret community of Somali Christians.

Article 2 of the Constitution of Somalia indicates that Islam is the religion of the State; that no religion other than Islam can be propagated; and that no law can be enacted if it is not compliant with the general principles of Sharia (Islamic law). And though article 17 indicates that every person is free to practise his or her religion, it also says that no religion other than Islam can be propagated.

Many Christians are, therefore, under pressure to keep their faith a secret from the State.

But Christians also face extreme persecution from their communities and tribes.

If their religion is discovered, followers of Christ could be murdered on the spot. Al-Shabaab, an Islamist militant group, has stated publically that it 'wants Somalia free of all Christians'. Many tribal leaders see being Somali as being Muslim, and leaving Islam is a betrayal of the tribe.

At least 12 Christians were killed in 2016 when their faith was discovered.

Source: Open Doors; BBC

Please pray:

  • That there would be peace during this election period and that God's hand would be in the decision-making process
  • That God would protect secret believers in Somalia from extremists, and that they would be able to meet together and worship Him
  • That, despite the challenges, God's Word would spread throughout Somalia and that His love would be known.

More News from Somalia:

Find out more about persecution in Somalia.