MOGADISHU (Somaliguardian) – US Senate described a vote by Somalia’s parliament on Monday to extend president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s term by two years as a “breach of democratic norms”.
In the first reaction from a US institution, the Senate Foreign Relations Committee warned that the move risks destabilizing the conflict-torn nation, which has been in a political turmoil for more than three decades.
“Timely elections are a critical pillar of healthy democracy,” statement reads.
“Engineering a term extension is a breach of democratic norms and risks destabilizing Somalia.”
The committee said “stakeholders must reach consensus” and called for “attempts to undermine dialogue on a path to credible polls” to stop.
Somalia’s parliament voted on Monday to extend the term of Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo by two years, a move that the president hailed as a step towards progress after failing to reach consensus on elections with regional state leaders.
The vote is feared to spark violence in the war-torn capital, Mogadishu where shortly before the term extension a powerful Somali police commander suspended parliament session, citing fears over possible chaos and urged the prime minister to take over responsibility for the country and “send disputing sides back” to the negotiating table.
Police commander for Mogadishu and its surroundings, Sadak Jon, described Monday’s parliament sitting as “illegal” after its mandate expired and ordered MPs to return to their constituencies for reelection. He was later fired by the Somali police chief Abdi Hassan Hijar, who named a former Al-Shabaab fighter for the position.
Opposition leaders including presidential candidates condemned the parliament’s decision, which they said might slide the country back to a civil war.
Somalia’s international partners had earlier warned against mandate extension, though the government of president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo described statements by the international community as interference in its elections and called for “external actors” to refrain from meddling in the country’s internal affairs.
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