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UN Envoy: Somalia Can't Afford More Political Bickering


FILE - Somalia lawmakers raise their hands during a confidence vote on Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, at the Parliament Building in Mogadishu, Somalia.

FILE - Somalia lawmakers raise their hands during a confidence vote on Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, at the Parliament Building in Mogadishu, Somalia.

The United Nations envoy to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, is criticizing an effort by some Somali lawmakers to impeach the president. He said with an election coming up and al-Shabab militants still active, Somalia cannot lose time to the political bickering that has brought down governments in the past.

In recent days, members of Somalia's parliament have been working around the clock to impeach President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud. The lawmakers accuse him of violating the constitution.

The crisis has the international community worried that Somalia may not be able to hold national elections scheduled for next year.

In an interview with VOA, Kay said that while the U.N. respects the right of any parliament to hold institutions to account, Somalia cannot afford to lose more time on another political crisis.

“We also recognize that the United Nations Security Council has expressed a very clear view that Somalia should have an electoral process in 2016, it should not extend of the mandate, and from where I sit it's very difficult to see how an impeachment motion will allow those targets to be met because of the delay and protracted crisis that it will cause,” said Kay.

Political disputes often tied to power struggles and clan rivalries have brought down several Somali presidents and prime ministers over the past decade.

The current crisis began when some legislators called for the president to step down for failing to address growing insecurity and the killing of several lawmakers by al-Shabab.

Many Somalis say they hope that in the 2016 election, they will have a chance to elect leaders of their choice, but Kay said that seems increasingly unlikely.

The envoy calls on Somali government institutions to keep functioning and work on priorities they set for themselves, like the constitutional review process, which he says are crucial to state-building and good governance.

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