Somali president drops plans to extend term amid rising tensions

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MOGADISHU — Somali President Mohamed Farmajo on Wednesday called for elections and dropped plans to extend his term in office by two years to help ease tensions sparked by political violence in the country.

“As we have repeatedly stated, we have always been ready to implement timely and peaceful elections in the country. 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 in order to create a constitutional vacuum,” he said in a televised speech early Wednesday.

Farmajo said he will address the Lower House on Saturday to ask lawmakers to bring back the Sept. 17 agreement, an election model agreed on between his government and five leaders of the federal member states.

If the Lower House approves the president’s request, it will reverse the two-year term extension for the executive and the legislative arms of government, which was passed by lawmakers on April 12.

The president lost most of his key allies on Tuesday in a bid to stay in power when the prime minister sided with Galmudug and Hirshabelle, two states formerly aligned with Farmajo, to reject the term extension and instead called for elections.

Farmajo said his government will never allow the Somali people to fall into further destruction and displacement.

“Therefore, I call upon the parties organizing unrest, including politicians who were recently holding prominent political positions and are now aiming to assume public positions through chaos, to refrain from such acts,” Farmajo said.

He said the last few days have given people a clear indication of who harbors good or bad intentions, adding that political interests will end but Somalia will remain.

Farmajo called on the federal member state leaders to attend a new round of consultative talks on the electoral process, building on the work of the technical committee which met in Baidoa in the southwest region on Feb. 15-17.

Failure to resolve the electoral impasse has plunged Somalia into a political crisis since Farmajo’s term officially ended on Feb. 8, while the four-year term of parliament ended on Dec. 27, 2020.

Fighting erupted in the Somali capital Mogadishu on Sunday between government and pro-opposition forces over a mandate extension, allowing al-Shabab militants to take some regions.

Farmajo urged all security agencies to ensure the stability of the capital and the safety of innocent civilians. Source: Xinhua