The central government wanted a loyalist candidate to win as it seeks greater control over Somalia's five regions ahead of upcoming national elections, which will introduce a one-person one-vote system for the first time in decades.
Neighbouring Kenya, which has troops deployed as part of an African Union peace enforcement operation, is on the side of Madobe, who it sees as an ally against al-Shabab, while Ethiopia has aligned with Mogadishu.
"This action amounts to an unwarranted attack by foreign soldiers with the intention of provoking Kenya," the government said.
At a UN Security Council briefing last week, a US official said the clashes may play into the hands of al-Shabab and called on the government and regional troops to work together against the al-Qaeda-linked group.
An estimated 56,000 people have been uprooted since the clashes began, according to the UN’s emergency aid coordination body, OCHA – and 2.6 million people are displaced in the country overall.
– Philip Kleinfeld