Somadishu president drops plan to extend term extension

3 minutes
Somadishu president drops plan to extend term extension

Abdullahi Mohamed, president of Somalia, attends London Somalia ConferenceSomalia Conference on 11 May 2017 at Lancaster House.ReUTERS Jack Hill Pool File photo

On Wednesday, President MohamedMohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said he would lift an effort to extend his term by two years by bowing to local and international pressure after clashes in the capital Mogadishu split security forces along clan lines.

Hours earlier, Prime Minister MohamedMohamed Hussein Roble had called for a new presidential election and denounced any form of term extension.The term of president expired in February, but the country failed to hold elections as planned.Earlier this month, the lower house of parliament voted to extend Mohamed's four-year term by another two years.The Senate rejected the move, provoking a political crisis in the Senate.

Commanders in both the police and the military had defected to the opposition, and rival factions of the security forces had fortified positions in central Mogadishu, raising fears of clashes in the heart of the city and a security vacuum in the surrounding areas that could be exploited by al Shabaab-linked Al Qaidah insurgents.

In a televised statement made in the early hours of Wednesday, the president said that he welcomed the efforts of the prime minister and other political leaders and commended the statements they issued calling for elections to be held without further delay.He also called for urgent discussions with the signatories on the terms of an agreement signed last September on the conduct of the elections.

The opposition, who had launched an attack on the president to resign, did not immediately respond.He did not demonize the opposition in his speech, but made unnamed people and foreign entities which have no other goal than to destabilize the country.

On Tuesday, the heads of two regional states who had also rejected the president's proposed two-year extension of the term had been staunch allies.Those leaders said immediately after president's speech that they welcomed his announcement.

Mohamed's attempt to prolong his term angered foreign supporters who backed his government, hoping it would help calm and stave off the al Shabaab insurgency - linked to al Qaeda.The proposed extension would not affect all the factions in the security forces against one another.

This week, the opposition forces left positions in the countryside as they headed for a showdown in capital, allowing al Shabaab to take over at least one city.

Forces loyal to the government hold important parts of the city and clashed with opposition forces over the weekend, fuelling fears that the country could return to all-out war.The president asked all security agencies to maintain the stability and safety of innocent civilians by avoiding those actions that may lead to insecurity.

The unrest is the second bout of violence in Mohamed's Mogadishu over the proposed extension of Mogadishu's term.Further ethnic clashes could splinter Somali security forces along ethnic lines, said the International Crisis Group, a think-tank.

Somalia is once again on the brink of major breakdown, it said in a briefing published on Tuesday.

Somalia's clan militias are drawn from clan militias that have often battled each other for power and resources.

Darod is Mohamed, one of Somalia's major clans.The majority of the large forces are Hawiye, another Somali clan in the capital.Hawiye and the opposition leaders are most of the leaders.

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