MOGADISHU, April 14 (Reuters) – Somalia’s president has signed a controversial law extending his mandate for two years, the state news agency reported, setting the Horn of Africa nation on a collision course with donors who strongly oppose the move.
“President Mohamed Abdullahi (Farmajo) has tonight signed the direction of one person, one vote law which was unanimously passed by parliament on April 14,” the statement issued by the Minister of Information Osman A Dubbe late on Tuesday night said.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s four-year term expired in February without a successor. The new head of state was meant to be chosen by a new crop of legislators, but their own selection was delayed after opponents accused the president of packing regional and national elections boards with his own supporters.
On Monday the lower house of Somalia’s parliament voted to extend his term but the move was swiftly rejected the House’s upper chamber. Somalia’s main donors say they will not support any term extension.
“The United States is deeply disappointed by the Federal Government of Somalia’s decision to approve a legislative bill that extends the mandates of the president and parliament by two years,” said a Tuesday statement by U.S. Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken.
“It will compel the United States to reevaluate our bilateral relations with the Federal Government of Somalia, to include diplomatic engagement and assistance, and to consider all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions.”
A Tuesday statement by Britain’s Minister for Africa James Duddridge also warned of unspecified consequences.
“In the absence of consensus leading to inclusive and credible elections being held without further delay, the international community’s relationship with Somalia’s leadership will change,” said his statement.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; writing by Katharine Houreld, Editing by William Maclean)