WASHINGTON (Somaliguardian) – US AFRICOM Commander General Stephen Townsend said Al-Shabaab is not the biggest concern in Somalia now, but the “extra constitutional extension of the president’s term in office” poses the most serious challenge.
“Political dysfunction that exists between the federal government of Somalia, and the federal member states…the extra constitutional extension of the president’s term in office – that’s out biggest challenge, I think, right now,” Townsend said.
The remarks have come hours after the African Union condemned Somali parliament’s vote to extend embattled president’s term last week and called for the government to resume talks with regional state leaders to end a long-simmering dispute over the elections.
“This move directly undermines the progress made on democratic processes and institutional reforms and may threaten international support,” US Senator Jack Reed noted.
Townsend stressed that Trump’s decision to withdraw US troops from Somalia has created new challenges in the fight against Al-Qaeda-aligned militant group Al-Shabaab.
“There is no denying that the repositioning of forces out of Somalia has introduced new layers of complexity and risk,” Stephen Townsend added.
“Our understanding of what’s happening in Somalia is less now than it was when we were there on the ground, physically located with out partners.”
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