Europe

Somalia faces presidential election under threat of attack

  • Somalis walk past a campaign poster for candidate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Graft - vote-buying, fraud, intimidation - is the top concern in a nation that Transparency International now rates as the most corrupt in the world and Mogadishu is in lockdown because of the threat of violence by homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

    Somalis walk past a campaign poster for candidate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Graft - vote-buying, fraud, intimidation - is the top concern in a nation that Transparency International now rates as the most corrupt in the world and Mogadishu is in lockdown because of the threat of violence by homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)  (The Associated Press)

  • Somali soldiers providing security stand near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Graft - vote-buying, fraud, intimidation - is the top concern in a nation that Transparency International now rates as the most corrupt in the world and Mogadishu is in lockdown because of the threat of violence by homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

    Somali soldiers providing security stand near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Graft - vote-buying, fraud, intimidation - is the top concern in a nation that Transparency International now rates as the most corrupt in the world and Mogadishu is in lockdown because of the threat of violence by homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)  (The Associated Press)

  • African Union (AU) soldiers stand with their armored vehicles near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Graft - vote-buying, fraud, intimidation - is the top concern in a nation that Transparency International now rates as the most corrupt in the world and Mogadishu is in lockdown because of the threat of violence by homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)

    African Union (AU) soldiers stand with their armored vehicles near a checkpoint on the eve of presidential elections in Mogadishu, Somalia Tuesday, Feb. 7, 2017. Graft - vote-buying, fraud, intimidation - is the top concern in a nation that Transparency International now rates as the most corrupt in the world and Mogadishu is in lockdown because of the threat of violence by homegrown Islamic extremist group al-Shabab. (AP Photo/Farah Abdi Warsameh)  (The Associated Press)

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.