The Somali president defiantly signed a law extending his mandate and the mandate of his government as the United States and others threaten sanctions and warn of further instability in one of the world’s most fragile countries
MOGADISHU, Somalia – The Somali president defiantly signed a law extending his term and the term of his government while the United States and others threatened sanctions and warned of further instability in one of the world’s most fragile countries.
The president signed the controversial law late Tuesday after the lower house of parliament this week voted to effectively extend his term to two years, during which time he called for direct elections. Senate leaders, however, declared the vote illegal, and the Somali opposition protested.
The U.S. is “deeply disappointed,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said overnight in a statement threatening the possibility of sanctions, visa restrictions and a reassessment of “our bilateral relations.” The statement called for the federal government and the regional states of Somalia to urgently return to talks on the election crisis.
The European Union warned that signing a legal decision this week would divide Somalia and “pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of Somalia and its neighbors”, and threatened to consider “concrete measures” in response.
Britain said the move this week “undermines the credibility of Somalia’s leadership” and threatened to work with international partners to “re-examine our relationship and the nature of our assistance to Somalia”.
In response, the Somali Foreign Ministry said it was concerned about the “misleading and alarming statements” of some international partners, and accused them of “inciting the Somali people to their legitimate government”. The statement added that Somalia would “reject any attempt to use humanitarian aid to blackmail the country,” without giving details.
Somalia relies heavily on outside assistance to feed, house and house large displaced populations due to insecurity and climate shocks, as well as to train and equip its security forces.
In the latest deadly attack, at least 14 people were killed when their minibus hit an explosive device in Jiradi Gololey north of the capital Mogadishu, Sadaq police spokesman Adan Ali said. He blamed al-Shabab. Just a day earlier, Somali security forces had certainly demined five explosives along the way, he said.
In the capital, frustration deepened due to political chaos.
“What happened can be explained by a coup d’etat carried out by a group of people who have been hungry for so long,” said civil society leader Abdullahi Mohamed Shirwa. “This is just like the craziest political cube.”
The Somali government has failed to reach an agreement on how to conduct the elections for months, and the regional states of Puntland and Jubbaland have opposed certain issues, and the international community has warned against holding by-elections. The crisis has led to deadly violence against protesters who opposed the postponement of the election.
Controversial issues in months of talks on the electoral process included the formation of an election management commission, the election of commission members for the detached region of Somaliland.
For decades, Somalia has not had direct elections with one man and one vote.
The country began to disintegrate in 1991, when military leaders overthrew dictator Siad Barre and then turned against each other. Years of conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, have left this country with about 12 million people largely shattered.
Al-Shabab controls large parts of southern and central Somalia and often attacks the capital with suicide bombings. An extremist group is a frequent target of U.S. military airstrikes.