UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The United Nations (UN) Security Council urged Somalia’s feuding government leaders on Saturday to resolve their disagreements through dialogue and give top priority to holding long-delayed national elections this year.
The UN’s most powerful body also urged the federal government and regional states “to ensure that any political differences do not divert from united action against al-Shabab and other militant groups”.
The press statement approved by all 15 council members followed emergency consultations on Friday on Somalia’s worsening political crisis, which has raised regional and international concerns that elections could be threatened and the East Africa region could face
The council meeting followed President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s (AFP; pic below) statement on Thursday saying he suspended Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble’s power to hire and fire officials, the latest action in their increasingly divisive relationship.
In the statement, council members expressed “deep concern about the ongoing disagreement within the Somali government and the negative impact on the electoral timetable and process”.
They urged all parties “to exercise restraint, and underlined the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in Somalia”.
Three decades of chaos, from warlords to al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab and the emergence of an Islamic State-linked group, have ripped apart the country that only in the past few years has begun trying to rebuild and find its footing.
The pressure on President Mohamed to hold elections has intensified since scheduled elections on February 8 failed to take place because of the lack of agreement on how the vote should be carried out.
Talks between the federal government and regional leaders that began in March broke down in early April.
At the president’s request, the lower house of parliament then adopted a special law that extended the terms of current office holders for two years and abandoned a September 17, 2020 agreement on indirect elections, reverting instead to a one-person, one-vote model.
Those decisions sparked widespread opposition, leading to the mobilisation of militias, exposing divisions within Somali security forces, and resulting in violent clashes on April 25.
After the clashes, President Mohamed on May 1 asked the lower house of parliament to reverse its actions that included extending his mandate for two years.
He also asked lawmakers to back the agreement the federal government reached with regional states last September 17 on a way forward for the vote, and he asked Prime Minister Roble to lead the election preparations and the related security measures. This led to a May 27 agreement on holding indirect elections this year.