AU Condemns Law Extending Somali President's Mandate

The African Union has condemned a bill passed this month by lawmakers in Somalia extending the mandate of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed by two years. 

A statement Thursday night from the AU's 15-member security body said the bill, which the president signed on April 13, undermined Somalia's "unity and stability" and "nascent democratic and constitutional processes." 

The Peace and Security Council called on Moussa Faki Mahamat, the AU commission chairman, to send a special envoy to Somalia "to reach a mutually acceptable compromise" and report back "within the next four weeks."

The body said that the lawmakers' actions "also threaten the relative peace and security, as well as the important gains that Somalia has made over the years with the support of the AU and other partners with huge sacrifices," the statement said. 

The legal authority of the Somali president, better known as Farmajo, had been in doubt since February when his four-year term expired before fresh presidential elections were held. 

The bill extending his mandate by two years bypassed the Senate after being adopted by the lower house of parliament.

Opposition parties decried the move as an unconstitutional bid to cling to power. 

The crisis in Somalia mushroomed from a long-simmering disagreement between Farmajo and the leaders of Puntland and Jubaland, two of Somalia's five semi-autonomous states, over how to conduct elections. 

A deal was cobbled together in September paving the way for indirect elections in late 2020 and early 2021, whereby special delegates chosen by Somalia's myriad clan elders pick lawmakers, who in turn choose the president. 

But that agreement collapsed as the parties accused each other of reneging on promises and refusing to compromise. 

Multiple rounds of talks failed to salvage the September accord, and deadlines for the election came and went. 

The United States, a key partner in the war on terror, and the European Union have warned of sanctions and other penalties should talks toward elections between the feuding parties not urgently resume. 

Farmajo's government has responded by accusing its foreign backers of undermining its sovereignty.

Source: Agence France Presse

Copyright © 2012 All Rights Reserved.