US Imposes Visa Curbs on Officials Believed to Be Undermining Somalia’s Elections

US Imposes Visa Curbs on Officials Believed to Be Undermining Somalia’s Elections
U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken speaks during the release of the "2020 Country Reports on Human Rights Practices" at the State Department in Washington, DC, U.S., March 30, 2021. Mandel Ngan/Pool via REUTERS

WASHINGTON (Somaliguardian) – The United States is imposing visa restrictions on current and former officials who are believed to be complicit in undermining elections in Somalia, including through use of violence, arbitrary arrests and intimidation, Secretary of State Antony Blinken said on Tuesday.

Today, on the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the Somali president’s term in office, I am announcing the implementation of a policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that restricts the issuance of visas to current or former Somali officials or other individuals who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia, including through violence against protesters, unjust arrests or intimidation of journalists and opposition members, and manipulation of the electoral process,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement

Immediate family members of such persons may also be subject to these restrictions,” he added.

It comes a year after Somali President’s term ended, whose attempt to extend his mandate in April last year sparked clashes between rival factions of the army, including one allied with the opposition, who said at the time that they would no longer recognize him as President.

In December, the Prime Minister said he had survived an attempted coup orchestrated by the President and accused Farmajo of rigging and manipulating elections to sweep his allies to victory in parliamentary polls.

This policy will apply to individuals who have played a role in procedural irregularities that have undermined the electoral process, who have failed to follow through with their obligations to implement timely and transparent elections, and who have targeted journalists and opposition party members with harassment, intimidation, arrest, and violence,” Blinken noted.

US Secretary of State called on Somalia’s leaders to follow through on their commitments to “complete the parliamentary polls in a credible and transparent manner by February 25” to “further lay the groundwork for responsive governance in Somalia”.

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