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Security tightened in Mogadishu as lawmakers discuss electoral crisis

Monday April 12, 2021

Security forces block a street with an armored personnel carrier during protests against the government and the delay of the country's election in the capital Mogadishu, Somalia Friday, Feb. 19, 2021. Security forces in Somalia's capital fired on hundreds of people protesting the delay of the country's election on Friday as at least one explosion was reported at the international airport and armored personnel carriers blocked major streets. (AP Photo)

Mogadishu (HOL) - Security in Mogadishu has been tightened on Monday morning, with additional troops being deployed on all main roads in the city. The security build-up comes as federal lawmakers are expected to convene a parliamentary session to discuss the electoral crisis.

Lawmakers said they were briefed last night, and many believe that Mohamed Mursal, the Parliamentary Speaker, will table a vote on a term extension for the embattled President Farmajo.

The constitutional mandate for Somalia's Parliament expired on December 27, 2020, while the president's term expired on February 8, 2021.

Sources told HOL that the Speaker is seeking a two year extension for the presidency and parliament.

Armoured vehicles loaded with troops have been ordered to man checkpoints throughout many of Mogadishu's main thoroughfares. Security on roads that lead to Somalia's Parliament has been beefed up significantly.

There are reports that the elite Turkish-trained Gorgor unit has been deployed across the city. Dozens of the unit's members returned to Somalia in early March after completing training.

The Somali Police Force met with the AMISOM police contingent at the Banadir Regional Police headquarters on April 7 for a closed-door meeting to discuss strengthening security.

Several attempts at brokering an electoral deal have failed. The final meeting ended disastrously a little over a week ago as the federal government and the Puntland-Jubaland alliance left the bargaining table accusing one another of the breakdown in talks.

At the end of March, a parliamentary session was abruptly adjourned after several lawmakers shouted down the Speaker at the beginning of the proceedings. While Mursal contended that the session was to discuss the COVID-19 pandemic, many MPS suspected that he was setting up a smokescreen and that the true purpose was to table a mandate extension for President Farmajo.

Just a day after Mursal called off the parliamentary session, he announced the suspension of 15 MPs who were involved in the altercation for the subsequent five sessions. Parliament finally reconvened four days later under tight security. The banned MPs were excluded from the session under threat of arrest.

Several Somali lawmakers voiced concern that the Speaker - an ally of President Farmajo - is seeking to extend the President and the Parliament's terms and have questioned the legality of such a move.

Abdirzak Omar, an MP who was emerged as a vocal critic of a mandate extension, tweeted that Speaker Mursal is flouting house rules to secure the extension.

Mr. Omar, having been banned by Mursal from Parliament, will likely not be in attendance for the session.

On Sunday evening, former President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed joined the chorus of calls against an extension, calling it a "national betrayal" that the government was seeking a term extension instead of reaching an electoral deal.

Somalia's international partners have repeatedly said that they will not endorse a partial term extension for Farmajo or any other parallel processes other than the September 17 agreement.


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