The Somali government said it foiled attempts by an organized militia who entered the capital Mogadishu to cause panic and fear among the residents.
“The Ministry of Internal Security… warns against the politicization of our security agencies and negative portrayal of all the efforts of our brave forces, some of whom have sacrificed their lives, to protect our nation,” it said in a statement issued on Sunday evening.
The statement came amid reports of fighting in Mogadishu on Sunday between rival security forces.
Tension has been running high in Somalia after the lower house of parliament passed legislation on the extension of President Mohamed Farmajo’s term by two years.
Farmajo, whose four-year mandate officially ended on Feb. 8, signed into law the parliamentary bill, which is opposed by the opposition, shortly after it was passed on April 12.
On Sunday, former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Wadajir party leader Abdirahman Abdishakur accused Farmajo of deploying security forces to attack their respective residences, accusations denied by the government.
“It is very unfortunate that an army under the command of the former president (Farmajo) attacked my residence. I have already warned and reiterated the dangers of politicizing security,” Mohamud said. “Farmajo is responsible for the consequences.”
The Ministry of Internal Security, however, dismissed the accusations from Mohamud, saying he is heavily protected by the National Guard and as such, any threats to him and his family remain a matter of huge concern to the government.
Amid reports of fighting in Mogadishu, many residents were seen fleeing the capital on Monday as military buildup continues.
Prime Minister Mohamed Roble, in a statement issued on Sunday evening, urged those involved in the violence to maintain peace and spare civilians.
“I am saddened by the recent attempts to undermine the peace and the security particularly during this holy month of Ramadan,” he said. “I believe that dialogue is the best option for us, a process that I have started and hoping to succeed.”
Roble said the government will intensify efforts to resume talks aimed at ending the current political stalemate and expressed optimism that all existing concerns will be addressed.
Meanwhile, the United Nations appealed for maximum restraint by all parties to the conflict and urged them to pursue dialogue to resolve the political stalemate which has delayed elections.
“The UN in Somalia is deeply concerned about clashes occurring in Mogadishu. We urge calm and maximum restraint by all parties. Violence is not the solution to the current political stalemate. We urgently call on all parties to resume immediate dialogue,” the UN said in a brief statement on Monday.
The latest political crisis came on April 12 when the Somali lower house of parliament voted to extend the terms of the executive and the legislative arms of government, despite stiff opposition from the upper house leadership and opposition leaders.
Efforts to reach an agreement on how to carry out presidential and parliamentary elections, which was originally scheduled to take place in February, have been stalled for months, with the regional states of Puntland and Jubbaland objecting on some electoral issues.
The opposition has refused to recognize Farmajo as president since his four-year term expired on Feb. 8 without planned elections taking place.