Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has announced he will not attempt to extend his term by two years, bowing to domestic and international pressure after clashes in the capital, Mogadishu.
Hours earlier on Wednesday, Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble denounced the proposed term extension and called for preparations for a new presidential election.
The president’s term expired in February, but the country failed to hold elections as planned. Earlier this month, the lower house of parliament voted to extend Mohamed’s four-year term by another two years.
The Senate rejected the move, provoking a political crisis.
Commanders in the police and the military defected to the opposition, and rival factions of the security forces fortified positions in central Mogadishu, raising fears of heavy fighting in the heart of the capital, and a security vacuum in the surrounding areas that could be exploited by al-Qaeda-linked al-Shabab fighters.
In a televised statement on Wednesday, the president said he commended the efforts of the prime minister and other political leaders and welcomed the statements they issued calling for elections to be held without further delay. He also called for urgent discussions with the signatories to an agreement signed last September on the conduct of the vote.
The president did not discuss the opposition in his speech, but denounced unnamed “individuals and foreign entities who have no aim other than to destabilise the country”.
The heads of two regional states who had been staunch allies of the president also rejected on Tuesday the proposed two-year extension of Mohamed’s term. Those leaders said in statements immediately after the president’s speech they welcomed his announcement.
Prime Minister Roble backed that joint statement and called on security forces to return to their barracks. He also urged opposition leaders to stop any actions that could harm Somalia’s stability.