African Union urges dialogue in Somalia
The African Union has called for dialogue between the Somali prime minister and president while urging them to exercise restraint in their political feud amid fears of a military clash.
Chairperson of the African Union Commission Moussa Faki Mahamat has issued a statement calling for the “utmost restraint” and “continued engagement” between Somalia’s prime minister and the country’s president, amid a deepening political crisis that has sparked widespread international alarm.
In his Thursday statement, Faki said the African Union remained committed to scaling up its support for durable peace and political stability in Somalia.
The United Nations and other countries are also in talks with the Somalian prime minister and president to urge them to reduce tensions in their political row.
“The United Nations and international partners are in contact with all sides to urge de-escalation,” UN Spokesman Ari Gaitanis said.
In recent days, heavily armed factions loyal to either party could be seen patrolling parts of the capital Mogadishu, raising fears that the tensions could erupt into violence.
On Tuesday, soldiers loyal to Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble took up positions near the presidential palace a day after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, announced the suspension of the premier, who accused him of an “attempted coup”.
Relations between the pair have long been frosty, but the latest developments have sparked concerns for Somalia’s stability as the country struggles to hold long-delayed elections and fight a takfiri insurgency.
Observers have urged both sides to resolve the festering dispute, which is widely seen by allies as distracting the internationally-backed government from fighting an armed campaign by al-Shabab, an al-Qaeda-linked takfiri terrorist group.
Under Somalia’s complex indirect electoral process, regional councils are meant to choose a Senate. Clan elders are then meant to pick members of the lower house, which then picks a new president.
The long-delayed elections began on November 1 and were supposed to be completed by December 24, but one newly elected legislator said that, as of Saturday, only 24 of 275 representatives had been elected. A number of Somali traditional elders and politicians have also reportedly sought to calm tempers. Meanwhile, amid the political dispute, al-Shabab terrorists attacked a town north of Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu, on Thursday, killing at least seven people as they battled government security forces, a resident and police said.
Al-Shabaab often carries out bomb attacks on government targets but also on civilians. It also targets African Union peacekeeping troops.
Somalia, which has had only limited central government since 1991, is trying to reconstruct itself with the help of the United Nations.