(Image Credit: AP)
Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Saturday asked the Prime Minister to organize the elections as soon as possible in a bid to calm the country's worst political crisis in several years. “We have decided to seek the solution through negotiations and to avoid starting violence for the benefit of those who trade on the blood of the public,” Mohamed, popularly known as Farmajo, said in a televised speech before parliament that was broadcast live.
The Somalian President on May 1 ditched the extension of his two-year mandate in office reached unconstitutionally earlier last month that spiralled the fragile nation into civilian unrest. Armed clashes broke out between government military troops and groups backing the opposition in the capital Mogadishu as civilians demanded scrapping the controversial two-year term extension.
According to multiple local press reports, Somalia’s lower house of parliament approved the president’s request and agreed to lay the groundwork for the country’s long-delayed national elections. In his overnight speech, Mohamed said, “As we have repeatedly stated, we have always been ready to implement timely and peaceful elections in the country.” Further in his remarks aired on state television, the Somali leader added, "But unfortunately, our efforts were hampered by individuals, and foreign entities who have no aim other than to destabilize the country and take it back to the era of division and destruction to create a constitutional vacuum.”
We welcome the decision of the Lower House of the Somali Parliament today (1 May), which endorses holding the elections on the basis of the 17 September agreement as soon as possible, said the Turkish Foreign Ministry said in a statement.
We hope that this development will serve to restart constructive talks among political stakeholders without delay and ensure progress on the basis of social consensus by overcoming disagreements, it added.
[Opposition protesters are supported by armed groups in Mogadishu. Credit: AP]
In his bid to remain in power, Mohamed reportedly lost several of his key allies over the last week amid ongoing political violence, the state press reported. Both Galmudug and Hirshabelle, two key Somali states formerly aligned with the president urged for the cancellation of the President’s extension of power. Civilians in large numbers fled the country in defiance of the mandate, and armed men exchanged live ammunition with security forces on the streets.
In an official announcement broadcast on state TV, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said that the lower house of parliament that had voted to extend President Mohamed’s rule was now preparing to hold elections. Mohamed’s term had expired in February, and there has been an intentional pressure for the country in the Horn of Africa to elect the government democratically. The six federal member state of 15 million was threatened by the international community with sanctions, as at least 140 members of parliament voted unanimously for the elections to be held.
I welcome @_AfricanUnion to take a leading role in facilitating an election process in which every citizen elects their representatives through free and fair elections. All Somali stakeholders will actively participate in the dialogue on the future of our democracy.— Mohamed Farmaajo (@M_Farmaajo) April 19, 2021
In a statement issued Friday, the opposition asked Framajo to step down and reinstate indirect polls saying: "The council urges Prime Minister Roble to take full control of the electoral process and national security.” Meanwhile agreeing to the ballots, President Mohamed said, “I also ask the opposition leaders to play their role in pacifying the country and Mogadishu, in particular, for the sake of the people, country, and religion.” Earlier in February Somalia had an electoral impasse after there were disputes between the federal government and the states of Puntland and Jubbaland in how to conduct the votes. Amid the ongoing rift, Somalia’s lower house of parliament unanimously extended President Mohamed's four-year term in office.