Somalia's president extends his mandate by two years and exacerbates the political crisis | International

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The President of Somalia, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, signed a law on Tuesday to extend his mandate for another two years, after the proposal was approved last Monday by Congress, announced the Minister of Communication, Osman Dubbe, through the state news agency. This controversial measure represents, according to the opposition, "a threat to the stability, peace and unity" of a country hit by jihadist violence and mired in deep internal divisions. The United States and the European Union have shown their rejection of the extension of the presidential mandate and have warned with the adoption of measures against the Somali authorities, such as sanctions and visa restrictions.

The decision adopted by the lower house, controlled by the supporters of the president, and ratified this Wednesday by Farmajo, whose mandate expired last February, plunges this country further into crisis. The president of the Senate, Abdi Hashi Abdullahi, considers that this law is "unconstitutional" because it has not been put to a vote in the upper house, the Senate. The new regulation extends to 2023 the deadline for the organization of presidential elections with a new electoral system under the principle of “one person, one vote” and overcoming the complicated indirect process that is currently in force in Somalia.

The change in the electoral system was one of the star proposals of President Farmajo upon coming to power in 2017. However, the deteriorating security situation, with Al Shabab jihadists controlling part of the country and striking with periodic attacks and bombings in the same capital, and disagreements between different ethnic factions and policies of a country governed by a federal system have made it impossible to reach an agreement. On September 17, the own Farmajo and five regional leaders gave up on the idea of ​​changing the electoral system in exchange for the convocation of elections before February, in an agreement that has been blown up amid cross accusations for the failure in its execution.

The opposition already announced in February that, once the presidential term expired, it no longer recognized Farmajo as head of state, which has plunged the country further into instability. Since then, the international community, with the United States and the European Union, has made repeated calls for dialogue to overcome this blockade, without success.

From Washington, Secretary of State Anthony Blinken, warned this Tuesday through a statement of the possible consequences of the decision to extend the presidential term. “It will create deep divisions, undermine the process of federalism and political reforms that have been at the center of the country's progress and its good relations with the international community, and distract attention from the fight against Al Shabab [a terrorist group linked to Al Qaeda], ”he said.

The Joe Biden Administration, "deeply disappointed," according to Blinken, has warned of action. "This law will force the United States to review its bilateral relations and consider all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions." In a similar tone, the high representative of the European Union for Foreign Affairs and Security Policy, Josep Borrell, believes that this law "will divide Somalia", again urges negotiations to hold elections as soon as possible. and, if not, warns with "the adoption of new concrete measures," he said in a statement.

For his part, the British Minister for Africa, James Duddridge, indicated through a press release that “in the absence of a consensus that leads to credible elections that are held without further delay, the relationship of the international community with the representatives of Somalia is going to change ”. The deep disagreement between the federal government and the country's main donors puts de facto Somalia on the ropes. Submerged in a deep crisis since the fall of the military regime of Siad Barré in 1991 to the point of becoming a failed state, it has suffered a succession of conflicts, military operations, famines and attacks that make it one of the most unstable and punished nations. of the African continent. This Wednesday alone, at least 15 civilians have died in a minibus that traveled the route from Mogadishu to a northern town after the vehicle was allegedly blown up by members of Al Shabab, according to the Government, reports Reuters.

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