US, EU and UK Oppose Somali Parliament Decision to Extend Government Mandate

Somalia parliament (Photo Credit: Villa Somalia.)

The US government has expressed its disappointment with the Somali parliament’s decision to extend the president’s terms and lawmakers by two years.

“Implementation of this bill will pose serious obstacles to dialogue and further undermine peace and security in Somalia,” the U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Tuesday.

Blinken said his country would critically look at its relationship with the Somali government.

“It will compel the United States to reevaluate our bilateral relations with the Federal Government of Somalia, to include diplomatic engagement and assistance, and to consider all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions, to respond to efforts to undermine peace and stability,” he said.

Somalia’s lower house of parliament voted on Monday to extend the executive’s term for another two years to let the country prepare for direct elections.

The speaker of the parliament, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh, said 149 legislators voted for the term extension. The special election resolution passed by the parliament will be effective when the president signs.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo signed on Tuesday the parliament resolution into law extending his rule until 2023.

The extension also gives the electoral commission time to prepare for the one-person-one-vote process where the Somali population can elect men and women who will represent them in the next government.

The European Union said the parliament action undermines the longstanding effort to rebuild Somalia through consensus.

“The international community, including the EU, have repeatedly and publicly expressed that we could under no circumstances accept an extension of the government mandate, or any partial or parallel process related to the elections, without the agreement of the parties to the 17 September electoral agreement. The European Union believes that the passage and signing of this resolution will divide Somalia, impose additional delays and constitute a grave threat to the peace and stability of Somalia and its neighbors,” EU said in a statement Tuesday.

The EU wants to see Somali leaders return to the negotiating table to agree on holding elections based on the September 17 agreement.

The September 2020 electoral model faced obstacles and leaders could not agree on the implementation of the electoral process, which gives 101 clan delegates to elect their members of parliament, then 275 legislators and 59 senators to elect the president. After five months of talks last week, the meeting collapsed.