The U.N. Security Council expressed “its grave concern” Wednesday at the continued instability in Somalia, which it says has led to a multitude of problems, including terrorism, piracy and a dire humanitarian situation.
In a statement, the 15-member Security Council said it regretted the decision by Somalia’s parliament to unilaterally extend its mandate for three more years, and it urged other branches of the government to refrain from similar actions.
The council expressed concern at the tension between the executive and legislative branches of the Transitional Federal Government over this, and the impact it is having on the political process and the security situation in Somalia. The council encouraged the holding of elections for the positions of president and speaker of parliament before the transition period ends in August.
Somalia’s parliament has said it would like to hold a presidential vote. But the president has resisted, analysts say, because he is likely to face a serious challenge from the speaker of the parliament for his job.
The U.N.’s top envoy for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, echoed concerns over the power struggle, saying that the disagreement over the election issue is causing political paralysis in Mogadishu.
“There is, therefore, a need to develop urgently a consensus on when and how to hold elections, and for defining the mandate of the next dispensation, while seeking to diffuse the stalemate between the legislative and the executive branches of government,” said Mahiga.
Mahiga said he has offered a new round of initiatives to the president, prime minister and speaker of parliament in a bid to overcome the deadlock. He said the president is becoming more receptive to the need for dialogue, but that political will is still lacking.
Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdulahi Mohamed also addressed the Security Council. He said the executive branch considers the parliament’s extension of its mandate to be unconstitutional.
“Therefore, from the constitutional and legal perspectives, my government believes the current parliament does not have the constitutional mandate to elect a new president of the republic,” said Mohamed.
Mohamed said a new parliament, legally elected after the transitional period ends in August, would be the legitimate body for doing so.
The prime minister reiterated the government’s proposal that the parliament and president extend their mandates for an additional year - a move he said that would be lawful because of provisions allowing for such action in a time of war. Prime Minister Mohamed said the country is at war with insurgents and pirates, and that another 12 months of political stability and security progress could create the environment for real and fair elections.