Somalia condemns ‘threats’ from foreign allies

  • Somalia was threatened with sanctions following a decision to extend the embattled government’s mandate by two years.
  • Key foreign allies and financial supporters have rebuked the decision in strong terms.
  • The US on Tuesday said it was “deeply disappointed” in the move.

Somalia has accused some of its foreign backers of undermining its sovereignty after the embattled government was threatened with sanctions over a decision to extend its mandate by two years.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Wednesday signed into law a “special resolution” extending his time in office, despite his term expiring in February, and repeat warnings that such a move would not be supported by western powers.

It followed a total collapse in UN-backed talks between the central government in Mogadishu and two of Somalia’s semi-autonomous states over how to proceed with delayed elections in the fragile nation.

Key foreign allies and financial supporters have rebuked the decision in strong terms.

They say the mandate extension threatens peace and stability in Somalia and distracts from its fight against the Al-Shabaab Islamist group.

READ HERE | Somali president signs law extending mandate for two years – state media

The United States, a key partner in the war on terror, and the European Union has warned of sanctions and other penalties should talks toward elections between the feuding parties not urgently resume.

“While we appreciate the concerns of our friends and international partners for Somalia’s stability and security, it is regrettable to witness champions of democratic principles falling short of supporting the aspirations of the Somali people to exercise their democratic rights,” Somalia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued late Wednesday,

“Inflammatory statements laden with threats, which undermine the political independence and sovereign rights of national institutions, will only serve to embolden terrorist organizations and anti-peace elements in Somalia.”

It said the government stood by the lower house of parliament in its decision to approve the mandate extension, declaring it lawful and necessary to pave the way for free and fair elections.

The government has promised a one-person, one-vote election within two years. Past administrations have made similar pledges but no such vote has been held in half a century in the Horn of Africa nation.

READ | Mogadishu police chief suspends Somali parliament, gets fired moments later

The upper house was not permitted to consider the mandate extension, and the speaker of the Senate declared the legislation null and void.

The US on Tuesday said it was “deeply disappointed” in the move and warned “such actions would be deeply divisive” and erode the progress toward peace made in tandem with the international community.

Somalia received $2 billion (1.67 billion euros) in overseas development assistance in both 2017 and 2018, according to Somali government data.

The EU and US were among the top contributors of this aid, which represents roughly a quarter of the Gross Domestic Product of the impoverished country.

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