Somali President Mohamed Abdulahi “Farmajo” has bowed to growing domestic and international pressure, dropping his plans to stay in office for two more years.
In a brief statement on national TV early on Wednesday, Mr. “Farmajo” urged a return to negotiations on the country’s delayed election and vowed that the sight of rival forces clashing in the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, would not happen again.
Mr. “Farmajo” made the announcement following fast-moving events that saw two key regional states oppose his controversial term extension.
The president did not resign, as some expected, but he said he would speak to parliament on Saturday to inform them of developments.
He blamed unnamed foreigners for the recent troubles and accused unnamed political leaders of trying to use the “blood of young Somalis” to seek positions of power.
Mr. “Farmajo”, formerly a US citizen, had faced growing opposition after Somalia’s lower house of parliament approved the extension of his mandate and he signed it into law. The move had angered Senate leaders who described it as illegal.
But during Wednesday’s address, President “Farmajo” said he was now ready to go ahead with elections based on the September 17 agreement between his government and regional states, which the international community had emphasised.
He had not commented publicly since hundreds of soldiers opposing his mandate extension took up positions in Mogadishu on Sunday and clashed with other security forces.
On Tuesday, the United Nations, African Union, United States and the European Union warned against the “emerging fragmentation” of the Somali National Army along clan lines.
Originally scheduled for early February, Somalia’s election has been delayed amid disputes between the federal government and the states of Puntland and Jubbaland, along with the political opposition.