The supporters and opponents of Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed clashed on Sunday on the streets of the capital Mogadishu over the extension of his four-year term.
The president signed a law in mid-April extending his mandate for two years, stoking opposition inside Somalia and putting him on a collision course with Western and other donors opposed to the move.
Somalia, which plunged into war and chaos in 1991, has been struggling to re-establish the authority of the central government and rebuild the nation, with international help. The failure to hold elections that were due in February sparked a new crisis.
Reports claimed the presence of military vehicles and soldiers in Mogadishu.
There were no reports of casualties, but the gunfire heard across much of the city highlighted earlier warnings that the election standoff could increase instability in the Horn of Africa nation.
The soldiers were believed to have entered the city from military bases outside Mogadishu. Most of them belong to the clan of former presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Both have vowed to forcefully dislodge the president if he does not return to negotiations over the election delay or resign
Mohamud in a tweet alleged that forces loyal to the president attacked his house on Sunday, adding that: “I’ve warned and am now repeating how dangerous it is to politicise security. (Mohamed) will shoulder the responsibility of whatever happens as a result of this.”
On Friday, the UN Security Council called on all sides “to reject violence and resume dialogue as a matter of urgency and without precondition”, underscoring its concern over the country’s political crisis.
“The members of the Security Council expressed their deep concern about the continued political impasse and disagreement among Somalia’s political leaders on the model for elections,” the document said.
The Security Council on March 31, following an urgent meeting, had called on Somali authorities to resolve the dispute over the electoral process.