Somalia is accusing some of its foreign backers of undermining its sovereignty after the embattled government was threatened with sanctions over a decision to extend the president’s mandate by two years.
Key foreign allies and financial supporters have rebuked the decision in strong terms, saying the mandate extension threatens peace and stability in Somalia and distracts from its fight against the al-Shabab armed group.
President Mohamed Abdullahi, on Wednesday, signed into law a “special resolution” extending his time in office, despite his term expiring in February and repeated warnings that such a move would not be supported by Western powers.
It followed a total collapse in UN-backed talks between the central government in Mogadishu and two of Somalia’s semi-autonomous states over how to proceed with delayed elections in the fragile nation.
The United States, a key partner in Somalia’s fight against terrorism, and the European Union have warned of sanctions and other penalties should talks towards elections between the feuding parties not urgently resume.
“While we appreciate the concerns of our friends and international partners for Somalia’s stability and security, it is regrettable to witness champions of democratic principles falling short of supporting the aspirations of the Somali people to exercise their democratic rights,” Somalia’s foreign ministry said in a statement issued late on Wednesday.
“Inflammatory statements laden with threats, which undermine the political independence and sovereign rights of national institutions, will only serve to embolden terrorist organizations and anti-peace elements in Somalia.”
It said the government stood by the lower house of parliament in its decision to approve the mandate extension, declaring it lawful and necessary to pave the way for free and fair elections.
The US said on Tuesday it was “deeply disappointed” in the move and warned “such actions would be deeply divisive” and erode the progress towards peace made in tandem with the international community.
Somalia received $2bn in overseas development assistance in both 2017 and 2018, according to Somali government data.
The EU and US were among the top contributors to this aid, which represents roughly a quarter of the country’s GDP.