NAIROBI, Kenya (AP) —
Somalia’s election body says it intends to delay the parliamentary and presidential elections scheduled for November by 13 months, citing the country’s security problems.
Announcing that a new date for the elections in Aug. 2021, Halimo Ismail, chairwoman of the electoral commission, told lawmakers and journalists on Monday that elections were being postponed for more than a year because of “significant technical and security challenges.”
The announcement by the electoral commission was welcomed by many in the international community including the United Nations, the African Union Mission in Somalia, the European Union, the U.S. and Britain.
They issued a joint statement in support of the new election date in which they emphasized the continued need for Somalis to engage in inclusive dialogue to forge the widest possible agreement among Somalia’s political parties over the election.
However, the Forum of National Parties opposition alliance, criticized the delay. They have said that President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed is seeking an unconstitutional term extension by postponing the elections. Some opposition leaders called for the leaders of the electoral commission to step down. The president’s term expires on Feb. 8, 2021.
Somalia’s government depends on international support in its long-lasting battle against the Islamic extremist rebels of al-Shabab, who are allied with al-Qaida. Al-Shabab controls large parts of southern and central Somalia and often targets the capital with suicide bombings. The violence from the extremists would make it difficult to hold election rallies and voting, according to diplomats.