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Militias opposing President Mohamed move into the capital after weekend of clashes

Some roads to the Presidency and parliament are blocked by armed gangs

With local, regional and international officials objecting to the bid by President Mohamed Abdullah Mohamed 'Farmajo' to extend his term by two years, ostensibly to organise direct elections, the crisis is splitting the security forces.

Over the weekend, soldiers from Middle Shabelle region moved to Mogadishu to confront Farmajo's supporters.

On Sunday, the African Union's Peace and Security Council concluded that Somalia is not ready to hold elections based on universal suffrage (AC Vol 62 No 1, Voting may not bring peace). Instead, indirect elections should be held, the AU said.

AU Commission chairman Moussa Faki Mahamat will now name an envoy in the coming days, with the increasingly unlikely task of mediating a date and method of polls to be held in the coming months.

Farmajo's government appears to have shot down the mediation process before it even begins, accusing the AU, and particularly Kenya and Djibouti of interfering in its affairs, and of seeking to 'violate the political independence of the republic,' according to Foreign Affairs Minister Mohamed Abdirizak (AC Vol 61 No 25, Farmajo breaks with Nairobi).

Former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said on Sunday that soldiers had attacked his residence and pinned the blame on President Farmajo. Mogadishu residents have reported that clashes between pro-opposition and pro-government factions in the security forces have stepped up in recent days, with several senior military commanders, including Saney Abdule, unilaterally withdrawing forces from positions in protest as Farmajo's term extension (AC Vol 62 No 5, Battle lines in the capital).

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