Somalia: Police use live bullets to disperse rally against Farmajo's term extension
MOGADISHU, Somalia - The Somali Security forces were on Sunday forced to use live bullets to disperse protestors in Mogadishu, who had thronged into the streets to call for an urgent dialogue between the federal government and member states, which was supposed to kick off.
Hundreds of youths and elderly people blocked major roads leading to the seaside city while chanting anti-government slogans, with some calling for the resignation of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, who they accused of "incompetence".
The demonstrators accused the federal government of a plot to extend its term by delaying elections, arguing that the move will "severely" undermine the Constitution of Somalia, which gives a government only four years before an election is done.
While terming the move "illegal", the protestors asked the federal government failed to convene a dialogue meeting between stakeholders to solve the impasse before the matter escalates. Somalia, they said, cannot afford to delay an election since the move would be "catastrophic".
But police officers manning the city were forced to use live bullets to disperse the crowd as hundreds scampered for their safety. Several people including a former District Commissioner were arrested during the melee and are currently in police custody, reports indicate.
In addition, the police officers have confiscated the camera of the London-based Universal TV station and threatened its anchor with murder for covering anti-government rally in #Mogadishu on Sun, per the TV's statement.
The protests come just a day after 70 senior citizens, intellectuals and politicians issued a manifesto, which among others, demanded timely elections and urgent dialogue between FGS and federal states, which they insisted was the only way to curb a possible political conflict.
The manifesto was the second to be issued in the history of Somalia. In 1990, President Siad Barre was issued with a manifesto which he ignored but was overthrown a year later, ending his decades of misrule, corruption, and impunity.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo had called for a dialogue starting today [Sunday] but it was yet to kick off after Puntland withdrew, accusing FGS of high handedness and impunity. FGS, President Said Abdullahi Deni said, was blatantly approving electoral law despite calls to have stakeholders discuss them.
The National Independent Electoral Commission had ruled out elections this year, a move which was commended by the US and other international partners. However, federal states and the opposition insist that the move would lead to a term extension for the current regime.
While the West and FGS are supporting universal suffrage model, federal states and the opposition insist that the model should be actualized in the next cycle of elections after December. They want the status quo to remain in the much-anticipated polls.
A statement issued by the electoral commission stated that the earliest Somalia can go to polls in March next year, a move which would see the term of current leadership extended by a further four months. It's this scenario that the people are against.
Donald Yamamoto, the US envoy in Mogadishu, encouraged Somalia leadership to work together for the sake of stability and integration in Somalia, in a statement issued on Saturday during the celebrations of America's independence day.
"For Somalia, as well, your future is at stake, encouraging your leaders from the Federal government to federal states and communities to work together to create jobs, educate children, help people in distress, and fight terrorism to realize a better tomorrow," he said.
"The US wants Somalis, all people to dream big things, to make the impossible possible and have our children and all future generations blessed with hope," added Yamamoto, who is among critical players in the quest to have a credible election in the Horn of Africa nation.