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Somali Lower House of Parliament Extends President’s Term for Two Years

Somali legislators of the lower house of parliament raise their hands to vote to extend President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's term for another two years, in Mogadishu, April 12, 2021.

Somali politics were thrown into a state of confusion Monday as the two houses of parliament clashed on the status of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo. The lower house of parliament voted to extend the term of the president and his government by two years, while the upper house said the move was unconstitutional.

Somalia’s lower house of parliament voted overwhelmingly to extend by two years the term for the government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

The special session saw 149 MPs vote in favor of the extension, with only three opposed.

But within minutes, the upper house of parliament objected, with the speaker saying the move by the lower house is unconstitutional.

Either way, there is no sign that Somalia’s delayed parliamentary and presidential elections will begin any time soon.

The polls, originally scheduled to start late last year, never got off the ground because of disputes between political leaders on who would control the electoral process.

Talks to end the impasse ended in deadlock despite pressure from the African Union, European Union and other international partners of the Somali government.

The speaker of the parliament, Mohamed Mursal, said Monday that lawmakers must take responsibility as representatives of the people, to take decisions when the need arises.

He said the current state facing the people in the country will not allow the continued political impasse that resulted in the election delay. He said since they represent the interest of the nation, the citizens are awaiting their decision, hence the move to extend two years term to plan for ballot elections.

FILE - Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria, South Africa, May 25, 2019.
FILE - Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed arrives for the swearing-in ceremony of Cyril Ramaphosa in Pretoria, South Africa, May 25, 2019.

President Farmajo, whose term in office technically expired on February 8, immediately welcomed the extension approved by the lower house.

In a statement, the president urged citizens to seize the historic chance to choose their democratic destiny.

However, members of the opposition, led by former prime minister, Hassan Ali Khaire, warned that extending the president’s term could have negative consequences.

He said that it is the right time for Somalis to acknowledge that the decision by outgoing president regarding his illegal stay in office is leading to dangerous path. The former PM added that history will judge the decisions taken by the leaders if they are not careful.

Earlier, the country’s police chief Abdi Mohamed Hassan fired Mogadishu regional police commander General Sadik Omar after he tried to suspend the parliamentary session, citing security concerns.