The United Nations Security Council on Friday urged Somalia’s government to organize elections as soon as possible in a resolution that highlighted the pressing threat posed to the country’s security by al-Shabab and other armed opposition groups.
The resolution, which passed unanimously, authorized the African Union to keep its nearly 20,000-strong mission in Somalia until the end of the year with a mandate to reduce the threat from extremist groups to enable a stable, federal, sovereign and united Somalia.
The UN’s most powerful agency said its goal is to hand over security to Somali authorities: the country would take over in 2021 and assume full responsibility by the end of 2023.
This highlights the importance of building the capacity of Somali forces and institutions to manage current and future threats, and authorizes the AU force, known as AMISOM, to support the transfer of security responsibilities to the government.
The resolution was adopted amid mounting pressure on the country’s president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, after polls scheduled for Feb. 8 were not held due to a lack of agreement on how they should be conducted. Two states said they will not participate without an agreement.
Critics accuse Mohamed, who is seeking re-election for another four years in power, of delaying the elections to extend his current term. The president has blamed unidentified foreign interventions.
The Security Council expressed concern over delays in finalizing arrangements for this year’s vote, and called on the government and states to organize free, fair, credible and inclusive elections in accordance with a Sept. 17, 2020 pact.
Three decades of chaos, from warlords to the al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab group and the emergence of an Islamic State-linked militia, have torn apart a nation that in recent years has begun to find its footing.