UN Council calls on the warring leaders of Somalia to settle the dispute | World information
By EDITH M. LEDERER, Associated Press
UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council called on the warring leaders of Somalia on Saturday to resolve their differences through dialogue and to make holding the long-delayed national elections this year the highest priority.
The most powerful body of the United Nations also called on the federal government and the regional states to “ensure that all political differences do not distract from joint action against al-Shabab and other militant groups”.
The press release, approved by all 15 council members, followed Friday’s emergency consultations to deepen the political crisis in Somalia, which raised regional and international concerns that elections are imminent and that East Africa may face further destabilization.
The council meeting followed President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s statement on Thursday saying he had the power of Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble to hire and fire officials, the latest move in their increasingly divisive relationship.
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In the statement, councilors expressed “deep concern about the ongoing disagreement within the Somali government and the negative impact on the timing and electoral process”.
They called on all parties to “exercise restraint and underlined the importance of maintaining peace, security and stability in Somalia”.
Three decades of chaos, from warlords to al-Qaeda member al-Shabab and the emergence of an Islamic State-affiliated group, have torn apart the country that has only begun to rebuild and gain a foothold in recent years.
Pressure on President Mohamed to hold elections has increased since the scheduled February 8 elections were not held due to a lack of agreement on how to hold the vote.
The talks that began in March between the federal government and the regional leaders broke off at the beginning of April. At the request of the President, the lower house of parliament then passed a special law that extended the term of office of the current incumbents by two years and abandoned an agreement of September 17, 2020 on indirect elections and instead reverted to a one-vote model.
These decisions sparked widespread opposition that led to the mobilization of militias, exposed divisions within the Somali security forces and led to violent clashes on April 25.
Following the clashes, on May 1, President Mohamed called on the lower house of parliament to reverse its measures, which included extending his mandate for two years.
He also called on lawmakers to support the agreement the federal government had made with regional states on September 17 on another avenue for voting, and asked Prime Minister Roble to lead election preparations and related security measures. This resulted in an agreement dated May 27 to hold indirect elections that year.
The Security Council statement called on “all parties to resolve their differences through dialogue for the benefit of Somalia and to give priority to the peaceful conduct of transparent, credible and inclusive elections within the agreed deadlines and in accordance with the agreements of September 17 and May 27”.
British UN Ambassador Barbara Woodward, who on Friday called for a closed briefing from UN Special Envoy James Swan, expressed serious concern about “the increasing tension between the Prime Minister and the President”.
She said it had become clear from Swan’s briefing that shuttle diplomacy is taking place to try to resolve the differences between the president and the prime minister.
“But the fact is, and we have made it clear, that this is a very dangerous distraction from the main task of driving the elections forward,” she said. “The risks for the Somali people, the risks of giving Al-Shabab more space, are indeed very high. That’s why we want to get out of this situation as quickly as possible and resolve it. “
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday that the United Nations and its international partners will mark the one-year anniversary of the agreement of the 17th electoral process. “
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