Somali President Farmaajo signs bill extending his term

Somalia's newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo attends his inauguration ceremony in Somalia's capital Mogadishu, February 22, 2017. REUTERS/Feisal Omar

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo late on Tuesday night signed the law extending his mandate for another two years.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s four-year term expired in February without a successor. A new group of legislators was expected to pick a new president but those new legislators saw their own selection delayed after opponents accused the president of packing regional and national elections boards with his own supporters.

On Monday the lower house of Somalia’s parliament voted to extend Mohamed’s term but the move was swiftly rejected by the House’s upper chamber. Somalia’s main donors, the United States, in particular,  say they will not support any term extension.

“We have stressed repeatedly that it is vital for the peace, stability, prosperity, and governance of Somalia that the Federal Government and Federal Member States reach a consensus on a way forward for the electoral process,” said U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.

“We have also made clear that the United States does not support mandate extensions without broad support from Somalia’s political stakeholders, nor does the United States support parallel or partial electoral processes.”

Blinken further said such actions would be deeply divisive, undermine the federalism process and political reforms that have been at the heart of the country’s progress and partnership with the international community, and divert attention away from countering al-Shabaab.

Other members of the international community have also expressed concern over extending Mohamed’s term and demand elections be held immediately.

A joint statement from the European Union, African Union, United Nations and regional IGAD bloc, issued Saturday, insisted that the September deal “remains the most viable path towards the holding of elections in the shortest delay possible.

A Tuesday statement by Britain’s Minister for Africa James Duddridge also warned of unspecified consequences.

“In the absence of consensus leading to inclusive and credible elections being held without further delay, the international community’s relationship with Somalia’s leadership will change,” said his statement.


Story compiled with assistance from wire reports