Somali President Backs Down on Term Extension

Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo addressed the nation Wednesday on the political situation and agreed not to pursue the extension of his presidential term. (Photo Credit: Villa Somalia)

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo in a televised address to the nation Wednesday, said he would not pursue the two-year and called on a return to dialogue to end the political impasse over the election.

“As the guardian of the Constitution and required to find balance between political agreement and recently passed law by the House of the People, I shall on Saturday, appear before the House of the People of our Republic to restore the September 17 process between Federal Government of Somalia and Federal Member States,” said Farmaajo.

The president’s decision comes after days of clashes between the government and fighters allied to the opposition groups in Mogadishu.

The United Nations humanitarian agency said Wednesday between 60,000 and 100,000 people in Mogadishu were displaced by recent clashes. 

“I am extremely concerned about the deteriorating security situation in Mogadishu,” said Cesar Aroyo, acting Humanitarian Coordinator for Somalia. “Apart from displacing innocent civilians, the initial violence has created uncertainty and fear of disruptions of humanitarian assistance of hundreds of thousands of vulnerable people across the city.”  

The UN said conflict-related displacement has escalated in the country, and since January, an estimated 173,000 people have been displaced, almost two-thirds by conflict.

Aroyo said they are seeing a heightened tensions and violence at a time that Somalia is experiencing drought, COVID-19 pandemic, and a serious desert locust infestation.

President Farmaajo’s term ended February 8 but failed to hold an election after his administration and the federal member states of Jubaland and Puntland disagreed on how to implement the electoral model agreed on September 2020. 

The Somali president has called on political leaders to meet to find a solution to the electoral impasse that has dragged on for nearly a year.

“We, therefore, call the signatories of the September 17, 2020, elections agreement for an immediate session to discuss the way forward towards the implementation of the agreement without being subjected to any conditions.”

The president accused some individuals and foreign governments of using the political crisis to destabilize his country. 

The opposition groups led by former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud are yet to comment on the president speech but have previously rejected the term extension.

The donor countries have disapproved of the term extension and called on Somali leaders to engage in dialogue to hold parliamentary and presidential elections.