Tuesday April 27, 2021
Department Spokesperson Ned Price introduces Secretary of State Antony J. Blinken before he delivers remarks to the media at the U.S. Department of State in Washington, D.C. on January 27, 2021.
Mogadishu (HOL) - The United States is "gravely concerned" about the violence in Mogadishu on Sunday and said it would consider sanctions and visa restrictions to respond to political spoilers, US State Department spokesperson Ned Price has said.
The US State Department released a statement that joined the growing chorus of international partners calling for an end to the violence and urged political actors to settle the electoral deadlock through dialogue.
"The United States is gravely concerned by the violent clashes yesterday in Mogadishu. We call on all parties to exercise restraint and to resolve their differences peacefully. Dialogue and consensus are the only ways to resolve the electoral impasse, and we urge parties to resume negotiations at once to arrive at an agreed way forward for immediate elections."
The statement added that the US would consider "all available tools" to respond to political spoilers.
"As the Secretary has stated previously, the United States is prepared to consider all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions, to respond to efforts to undermine peace and stability in Somalia."
Clashes on Sunday between security forces loyal to the president and rival units that have backed his opposition have led to violence in Somalia's capital. Locals described the fighting as the worst they've seen in years, causing many of them to flee their neighbourhoods for safer enclaves.
The fighting comes after months of UN-mediated talks between Somalia's federal government, and regional states failed to culminate in an indirect election. During the negotiations, the US called on Somalia's leaders to "set aside narrow political objectives" and agree to hold elections immediately.
Somalia's Lower House of Parliament - or House of the People - voted to extend their mandate and that of the President for an additional two years on April 12. Despite being rejected by Somalia's Upper House - Somalia is a bicameral parliament - the resolution was signed into law by President Farmajo, drawing intense criticism from his opponents, Western partners and the African Union.
The next day, the US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the US would not support a mandate extension and warned the bill would be a "serious obstacle to dialogue and further undermine peace and security in Somalia." Blinken said the decision would force the US to reassess its bilateral relations with Somalia's federal government, including diplomatic engagement.
"Implementation of this bill will pose serious obstacles to dialogue and further undermine peace and security in Somalia. 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, to respond to efforts to undermine peace and stability."
The statement comes as the US government issued a Level 4 travel advisory, warning its citizens not to travel to Somalia citing the violence and security risks as a major concern.