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International crisis meetings over election impasse and growing violence

Officials concerned at President Farmajo's position on voting delays and signs that growing opposition protests against his rule will fuel more violence

United Nations Security Council (UNSC) members will discuss the situation in Somalia at a video-conference on Monday (22 February), after gunfire broke out in Mogadishu on Friday when security forces clamped down on opposition protests against the delayed elections.

Presidential polls should have been held by an 8 February deadline agreed last year (AC Vol 62 No 1, Voting may not bring peace). Instead, it is hard to see a way forward that could avoid a constitutional crisis and violence.

Opposition candidates demand that President Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed, aka Farmajo, step down immediately after his term expired on 8 February, and insist that he should not be allowed to contest a second term because, they say, he sought to rig the electoral commission. Farmajo, meanwhile, continues to use his executive powers to attempt to organise the electoral commissions in the country's five federal states.

Opposition forces say they will not recognise a transitional government led by Farmajo and 'w[ould] not accept any form of mandate extension through pressure', instead demanding a Transitional National Council.

UNSC members are set to examine what steps can be taken to safeguard the country's political stability and security situation, which marks an embarrassing retreat for the international community, which has spent much of the last couple of years touting Farmajo as an ally and complacently ignoring his growing authoritarianism and the risk of violent confrontation. 

At last September's UN Security Council in New York, the UN Secretary General's special representative, James Swann, praised the Farmajo government's preparations for the elections, swiftly followed by a favourable report by the European Union's ambassador Nicolás Berlanga Martínez (AC Vol 61 No 25, Testing time for elections).

Swann, AU representative Francisco Madeira and EU Managing Director for Africa, Rita Laranjinha, are expected to lead the UNSC talks. Humble pie should be on the menu.


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