Somalia’s parliament votes unanimously to suspend the presidential extension

Somali lawmakers voted unanimously on Saturday to suspend a two-year extension of the presidential election they approved last month, following clashes in the capital Mogadishu between factions of the security forces, which are divided on the issue.

In a speech after the vote in Parliament’s lower house, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble ordered the army to return to the barracks and urged politicians to avoid calling for violence.

The political crisis has raised fears that al-Qaeda’s linked al-Shabaab insurgents could exploit a security vacuum if state forces divide along clan lines and face each other. The group has taken over at least one Somali city in the past week when heavily armed fighters moved from the countryside to the capital.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s attempt to extend his term has also angered foreign donors, who have backed his government in an effort to bring stability to Somalia after more than two decades as a failed state following a 1991 1991 1991 civil war.

Saturday’s area vote was broadcast on Somali television and came shortly after Mohamed addressed parliament, saying he had instructed the prime minister to prepare for a delayed parliamentary election.

Roble said in a Twitter post late on Saturday that the government will “soon” prepare the plan for elections and thanked the president and parliament.

I want to assure the Somali people, the federal Member States, the politicians and all the political stakeholders that we are determined to hold free, fair and open elections in the country without violating anyone’s rights.

– Mohamed Hussein Roble (@MohamedHRoble) May 1, 2021

Mohamed’s term expired in February, but without a new harvest of legislators, Parliament could not elect a president.

The term extension was approved by the lower house last month but was rejected by the Senate, provoking the crisis that has intensified over the past week.

Between 60,000 and 100,000 people were forced to flee their homes after clashes on Sunday that raised fears of an entire war between heavily armed factions for and against the president.

Rashid Abdi, an independent analyst in Nairobi, said the vote in parliament and the president’s movement against holding elections seemed to be a good compromise.

“The problem is that there is so little trust between the parties and as long as Farmaajo holds the armaments for the military and security services, it looks difficult to build trust in that process,” he said, using a popular nickname for the president.

The US State Department, the EU Ambassador and the Turkish Foreign Ministry praised Saturday’s developments.

“We urge the parties to the agreement to meet immediately without preconditions to complete the election process and begin implementation in a cooperative and transparent manner,” State Department spokesman Ned Price said in a statement, adding that the United States was ready to support the construction. election as soon as possible.

Battle lines are drawn

Opposition leader Abdirahman Odowaa told Reuters that “much remains to be done” and added that he wanted Mohamed to formalize what had been agreed.

“The handover of the security and election process to the Prime Minister should be documented and signed … (He) must go to the conference tent and sign … above all,” Odowaa said.

Senator Ilyas Ali Hassan, from another opposition party, Himilo Qaran, said he hoped Roble “will now lead the election and … do the right thing, so that this country can have a free and fair election”.

Abdulahi Ali Hirsi Timaade, information minister in Puntland, one of Somalia’s five regional governments, told Reuters he wanted Mohamed to confirm in a letter that he had given Roble responsibility for the election and security.

Mogadishu store owner Duale Hussein said he feared the opposition had been deceived.

“He skillfully made a salt,” Hussein said of the president. “Farmaajo still controls everything … Roble is just his remote control.”

It was not immediately clear whether security forces loyal to the opposition would withdraw from fortified positions in the capital after Saturday’s vote and Roble’s order, after refusing to do so earlier this week.

Somalia’s armed forces include members of clan militias who have often fought with each other for power and resources.

Mohamed is Darod, one of Somalia’s great clans. Most of the opposition leaders and the Somali military in the capital are Hawiye, another large clan.

(REUTERS)

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