Somalia faces a groundbreaking presidential election Wednesday amid a security lockdown that has closed the capital’s international airport and cleared major streets. Fears of attacks by extremist group al-Shabab have limited the election to the country’s legislators, who will vote at a heavily guarded former air force base in the capital, Mogadishu. Rounds of voting are expected to narrow down the 22 candidates to a winner.
This Horn of Africa nation is trying to put together its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century. Years of warlord-led conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, left the country of about 12 million people largely shattered. While the international community pushed Somalia to hold the election as a symbol of recovery, the vote has been marred by reports of widespread corruption.