horn of africa
Rival factions clash in Mogadishu over president’s mandate
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's term extension triggers opposition and puts him on a collision course with foreign donors
Mogadishu — Supporters of Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and those opposed to the extension of his four-year term clashed on Sunday on the streets of the capital, residents said.
Former Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, meanwhile, accused Mohamed of orchestrating an attack by soldiers on his home on Sunday. His accusation against Mohamed on Twitter — which did not include details or proof — and the fighting in Mogadishu could distract security forces from their internationally backed fight against al Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab insurgents in the Horn of Africa nation.
“It is very unfortunate that an army under the command of the former president attacked my residence,” Mohamud said, referring to Mohamed as “the former president”.
A government spokesperson did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the accusations from Mohamud, who was replaced as head of state by Mohamed in 2017.
But the internal security minister, Hassan Hundubey, denied that the government had raided the former president's home, according to the state-run Somali National News Agency.
Somalia, which plunged into war and chaos in 1991, has been struggling to re-establish the authority of central government and rebuild the nation, with international help. The failure to hold elections that were due in February sparked a new crisis.
The lower house of parliament passed legislation to extend Mohamed's tenure by up to two years, though the decision was rejected by the upper chamber. The president signed it into law in mid-April.
Gunshots could be heard in Mogadishu throughout Sunday as residents reported clashes between units of the security forces for and against Mohamed.
Hundubey said of Sunday's fighting in Mogadishu that government troops had subdued militia. He did not say who the militia were allied with. “After efforts of trying to find a solution through negotiations failed, the security forces intervened and concluded the operation against the militia,” Hundubey said in a Facebook broadcast.
As well as triggering opposition in Somalia, Mohamed's term extension has put him on a collision course with foreign donors who support his government in the hope of bringing some stability to Somalia after three decades of chaos.
One Reuters journalist saw four vehicles in south Mogadishu carrying forces from the Abgal clan loyal to Saney Abdule, a military commander from the Hirshabelle area of central Somalia.
Abdule had announced he was coming to Mogadishu to denounce the extension of the president's term. Calls and text messages to the government spokesperson about that also went unanswered.
Last week, the Mogadishu police chief announced he was suspending parliament to stop the term extension but was sacked minutes later. Another Somali general has threatened to take over Mogadishu airport to protest the extension.
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