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Somalia Parliament Session Called Off

FILE - Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed addresses the U.N. General Assembly at U.N. headquarters, Sept. 26, 2019, in New York.

Somalia’s parliamentary session was called off Saturday after pro-government and opposition members could not agree on the agenda.

The House was expected to discuss COVID-19, but opposition members complained the agenda also included a proposed term extension for President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, popularly known as Farmajo.

The parliament speaker, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdurahman, called off the meeting after members of the opposition disrupted his attempt to chair the session.

Opposition lawmakers claimed the speaker and pro-government members of parliament were planning to pass a term extension for the president's administration, a claim denied by pro-government members, including Hani Mohamed Adan.

She said some members of parliament tried to cause chaos in the parliament, which was against the standing orders. She said the speaker must take action against the legislators who broke House rules.

Later, the speaker issued a letter suspending 15 lawmakers from attending the next five sessions of the parliament, according to government media. The lawmakers were accused of obstructing Saturday’s planned session of the parliament.

One suspended MP said the speaker's move violated House rules.

The terms of parliament and the president have expired, and elections, once planned for February, have been delayed while the country’s leaders work out differences about how to conduct the vote.

Sadik Warfa, a former cabinet minister and member of parliament, stressed the need to wait for the outcome of election talks between federal and regional leaders in the capital, Mogadishu.

Warfa said they were warning against term extensions for the government by the parliament and were supporting talks among the leaders to resolve the election standoff.

Warfa added that they were confident about the prospect of transparent, peaceful elections in the country, underscoring the challenges facing ordinary citizens in the Horn of Africa nation.

International partners, including the United Nations, the United States and the European Union, are pressuring Somalia to hold an election, and they reiterated this week their opposition to parallel electoral processes or term extensions for the incumbent government.

VOA's Harun Maruf contributed to this report.