US presses Somalia to hold elections immediately

Secretary of State Antony Blinken calls on Somali leaders to set aside ‘narrow political objectives’ and to hold ‘transparent and inclusive elections’.

A coalition of opposition candidates considers President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to be illegitimate and wants him to resign [File: Farah Abdi Warsameh/AP Photo]

The United States called on Somalia on Friday to hold elections right away and end a deadlock that Washington says is threatening the strife-torn Horn of Africa country.

Somalia missed a deadline to hold an election by February 8 when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmaajo, was due to step down, sparking a constitutional crisis in the already-fragile state.

A coalition of opposition candidates now considers the president to be illegitimate and wants him to resign.

“The United States is deeply concerned by the electoral impasse in Somalia, which is creating political uncertainty that threatens security, stability, and development in the country,” Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.

“We call on Somalia’s federal and member state leaders to set aside narrow political objectives, uphold their responsibilities to the people of Somalia, and agree to immediately hold transparent and inclusive elections,” Blinken added.

It was not the first time the US, which until January had hundreds of soldiers in Somalia, has called on Mogadishu to overcome political jostling and hold an election.

Last month, the US urged the country’s leaders to find a resolution.

In a statement, the US embassy in Mogadishu urged “Farmaajo and Somalia’s national leadership to act now to resolve the political impasse that threatens Somalia’s future and find agreement with Federal Member State leaders to allow the conduct of parliamentary and presidential elections immediately”.

Washington said the gridlock has led to a lack of progress in the fight against al-Shabab, which continues to carry out attacks in the country.

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies