Former Alshabaab Deputy leader Mukhtar Robow was on Sunday officially cleared by the South West State Electoral Commission to contest in the December elections despite early protest by the Federal government seeking to have him barred.
Robow got a major boost in his campaign when five hopefuls withdrew from the race to support his candidature.
The five include former federal ministers Mohamed Aden Fargeti and Salah Sheikh Osman and Hussein Abdi ushering in a new alliance.
They said the decision came after consultation with the people of South West claiming Robow enjoyed support of on the ground.
Another alliance was being formed in the same administrative capital Baidoa by candidates seen to be backed by the federal government.
Former spy Chief Hussein Osman Hussein, former Trade Minister Abdiaziz Hassan Laftagareen and former Somali envoy to Uganda Siid Ahmed Muse held hands at a meeting to show solidarity in the coming elections.
The race is turning out to be a tight one pitting the former Alshabaab leader and the pro government candidates.
Former NISA Chief Hussein quit the position months after his July 2018 appointment to run for the regional presidency.
Laftageen who had earlier lost in the race for House National Assembly Parliament enjoys not only the backing of the Farmaajo government but vast experience in politics in the last 15 years as an MP and Minister in several dockets.
Although Villa Somalia has not accepted or denied the claims of supporting particular candidates, it is believed that former NISA chief Hussein Hassan and State Minister for Trade Abdulaziz Laftagaren enjoy strong support from the office of the President and that of the Prime Minister respectively as possible replacement of Sharif Hassan Adan who recently quit the race after an unexpected resignation.
Robow's campaign strategy has targeted the grassroot support although his critics are of the opinion that the time is not ready for him to head South West State as he is new in politics. Some are of the opinion that he has to clear his name of his past association with the Somali militant group which under him many innocent civilians lost their lives in terror attacks.
However those backing him point at the examples of Robow's close friends Jubaland leader Ahmed Madoobe who quit militancy to join mainstream politics.
The elections are set for December