Somalia: Farmajo faces growing pressure following illegal term extension


MOGADISHU, Somalia - Under pressure, Somalia's outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo Saturday met members of the international community on Saturday amid calls to quit and resume dialogue, following escalating political tensions in the country.

Farmajo has been urged to resume dialogue in the country following cases of mistrust among stakeholders, and his decision to accept an extension of his term by two years. Lower House had taken the initiative after dialogue broke down.

Those who attended were the Deputy Special Representative to the UN and Ambassadors from the EU, AU, UK, and US. According to sources, members of the international community warned against term extension, saying it could polarize the country further.

They added that it would not support a pathway to elections outside of the Sep 17 agreement, which enjoys broad political consensus. The conversation was centered on resuming dialogue with the Federal Member States.

They also explained to Farmajo how their bilateral relationship could change in light of the extension. The outgoing president called for the meeting at the Afisyoni tent after he learned that the international partners were planning to hold talks on the current Somalia situation. 

The Somali government is heavily reliant on international aid and received US$ 1.9 billion in official development assistance in 2019 that was almost equal parts humanitarian (US$ 934 million) and development aid (US$ 924 million).

The World Bank, United Kingdom, European Union, and Germany were the most significant contributors to development aid in 2019, providing more than 50% of total development aid (approximately US$ 500 million). The United States provided nearly half of all humanitarian assistance in 2019 (US$ 455 million).

The term extension was rejected by the Senate as unconstituional while the opposition has also protested against the decision, arguing that the constitution doesn't give the Lower House such powers.

Somalia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs shot back, saying that the government will not tolerate threats or interference from outside forces on internal matters.

"Inflammatory statements laden with threats, which undermine the political independence and sovereign rights of national institutions, will only serve to embolden terrorist organizations and anti-peace elements in Somalia."

On Thursday, Somalia's Foreign Affairs State Minister, Balal Mohamed Osman, met with the Russian ambassador to Somalia and Djibouti, Mikhail Golovanov, amid a growing rift between the Horn of Africa nation and prominent Western bakers.

The visit was viewed as the federal government doubling down its decision to extend its mandate and show its Western allies that it could also look East and forge new relationships.

The extension has exasperated an already fragile political situation and threatens to divide Somalia's security sector under clan lines.


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