UN urges Somalia to organise elections without delay

UNITED NATIONS (AP) — The United Nations (UN) Security Council urged Somalia’s government on Friday to organise elections “without delay” in a resolution that stressed the pressing threat to the country’s security from al-Shabab and armed opposition groups.

The resolution, which was adopted unanimously, authorised the African Union (AU) to maintain its nearly 20,000-strong force in Somalia until the end of the year with a mandate to reduce the threat from the extremist groups to enable “a stable, federal, sovereign and united Somalia”.

The UN’s most powerful body said its objective is to transfer security to Somali authorities, with the aim of Somalia taking the lead in 2021, and achieving full responsibility by the end of 2023.

It emphasises the importance of building the capacity of Somali forces and institutions so they are able to manage current and future threats, and authorises the AU force AMISOM to support the transfer of its security responsibilities to the government.

The resolution’s adoption came amid growing pressure on Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed after scheduled elections on February 8 failed to take place because of the lack of agreement on how the vote should be carried out.

Two regional states have said they would not take part without a deal. Critics accuse Mohamed, who is seeking a second four-year term, of delaying the election to extend his current mandate. The president has blamed unnamed foreign interventions.