US, EU condemn decision to extend Somali President’s term | News from the European Union

The move, which the president says will help prepare for the 2023 elections, could further undermine stability.

The United States and the European Union condemned the Somali parliament’s decision to extend the terms of the president and members of parliament for two years, fearing that divisions could widen in the country.

US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said he was “deeply disappointed” by the approval of the legislation on Tuesday.

“The implementation of this bill will pose serious obstacles to dialogue and further undermine peace and security in Somalia,” Blinken said in a statement.

“This will require the United States to reassess our bilateral relationship with the Federal Government of Somalia, to include diplomatic engagement and assistance, and to review all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions, to respond to demands. efforts to undermine peace and stability, ”he said.

The lower house of the Somali parliament voted on Monday to extend the four-year term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, which expired in February, for two more years.

Lower House Speaker Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdurahman said the measure would allow the country to prepare for direct elections, but the Senate upper chamber speaker, who would normally approve the legislation, immediately condemned the move as being unconstitutional.

Abdi Hashi Abdullahi warned that this would “lead the country to political instability, risks of insecurity and other unforeseeable situations”.

The president and leaders of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous federal states reached an agreement in September to prepare for indirect parliamentary and presidential elections in late 2020 and early 2021.

But the deal fell apart amid wrangling over how to conduct the vote.

The political crisis threatens to deepen divisions in Somalia, distracting attention from the al-Qaeda-linked fight against al-Shabab in which thousands of civilians in the region have died over the past 12 years.

The African Union, the European Union, the United Nations and the regional bloc, the Intergovernmental Authority on Development, said in a joint statement on Saturday that they would not support any extension of the president’s term.

After the extension was agreed, EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell warned of the threat to stability.

“The European Union believes that the adoption and signing of this resolution will divide Somalia, impose further delays and pose a serious threat to the peace and stability of Somalia and its neighbors,” Borrell said in a statement. .

“It certainly does not serve the interests of the Somali people,” he added.

The international community has urged the holding of immediate elections.

Somalia has not had an effective central government since the collapse of Siad Barre’s military government in 1991, which led to decades of civil war and lawlessness fueled by clan conflict.

The country is currently governed by an interim constitution and its institutions, such as the military, are backed by international support.

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