UNITED NATIONS (AP) – The UN Security Council held emergency consultations on Friday on the worsening political crisis in Somalia, which could threaten long-delayed national elections and further destabilize the East African region.
British Ambassador to the UN Barbara Woodward, who called for the closed-door briefing of UN Special Envoy James Swan, expressed serious concern about “the growing tensions between the prime minister and the president.”
The meeting followed President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s statement on Thursday that he suspended Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble’s power to hire and fire officials, the latest move in their increasingly divisive relationship.
Woodward said the rising tensions have implications for the electoral process and could lead to a constitutional crisis on top of the country’s other challenges, from Al-Shabab extremists to famine, locusts and starvation.
Three decades of chaos, from warlords to al-Qaeda affiliate al-Shabab, and the rise of a group linked to the Islamic State, have shattered the country that has only in recent years begun to find its footing.
Woodward said the Security Council must keep up the pressure to get the electoral process back on track and “see that the prime minister and the president resolve their differences quickly … to ensure the security, peace and stability that Somalia needs.”
Council members were considering a draft press release, obtained by The Associated Press, which would express “deep concern over the current disagreement within the Somali government and the negative impact on the electoral calendar and process.”
He would urge all parties to “resolve their differences through dialogue” and prioritize holding elections in accordance with a May 27 agreement that stipulates that indirect elections will be held this year.
The draft declaration would also urge the federal government and regional states “to ensure that any political differences do not deviate from united action against al-Shabab.”
Britain’s Woodward said it was clear from Swan’s report that ferry diplomacy is underway to try to resolve differences between the president and the prime minister.
“But the fact is, and we also make it clear, that this is a very dangerous distraction from the main task of going ahead with the elections,” he said. “The risks for the Somali people, the risks of giving more space to Al-Shabab are really very high. So we want to get out of this situation as soon as possible and resolve it. “
The pressure on President Mohamed has increased since the elections scheduled for February 8 were not held due to a lack of agreement on how the vote should be conducted.
Talks between the federal government and regional leaders that began in March broke down in early April. At the president’s request, the lower house of parliament adopted a special law that extended the terms of current incumbents for two years and abandoned the September 17, 2020, agreement on indirect elections, reverting instead to a one-man election, a – voting model.
Those decisions sparked widespread opposition, leading to the mobilization of militias, exposing divisions within the Somali security forces and sparking violent clashes on April 25.
Following the clashes, on May 1, President Mohamed asked the lower house of parliament to revoke his actions, which included extending his term for two years.
He asked lawmakers to back the agreement that the federal government reached with regional states on September 17 on the way forward for the vote, and asked Prime Minister Roble to lead the election preparations and security measures. related. This led to the May 27 agreement on holding indirect elections this year.
UN spokesman Stephane Dujarric said on Friday that as Somalis celebrate the first anniversary of the September 17 agreement, the UN and its international partners “are increasingly alarmed that the growing dispute between the president and the first Minister will undermine the stability of Somalia and derail the elections. process. “