Officials said on Wednesday that the United Nations and other nations are in discussions with Somalia’s prime minister and president to persuade them to ease tensions in their political rift, which has fueled concerns of a military battle.
According to a Somali government source, Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble spoke separately with a top US official about the political situation in Somalia, which critics believe is diverting the government from fighting an insurgency led by the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab organization.
“The UN and international partners are in contact with all parties to encourage de-escalation,” said UN Spokesman Ari Gaitanis.
According to Gaitanis, the negotiations included the global body’s allies in Somalia, which include the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union, and others.
Separate meetings were held on Wednesday with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and a group of candidates vying to run against him in a presidential election.
“Their purpose at both sessions was to push Somalia’s leaders to prioritize the country’s interests and focus on rectifying election flaws,” Gaitanis added.
Somalia federal government spokesperson Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu stated on Twitter that Roble spoke with US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs Molly Phee about “the political situation in Somalia, security, and elections.”
The president suspended the prime minister on Monday for alleged corruption, a move that Roble described as a coup attempt, and directed the security personnel to obey commands from his office.
On Wednesday, security troops loyal to the prime minister tented in an area near the presidential palace for a second day.
Somalia began holding parliamentary elections on November 1 and was intended to finish by December 24, but according to election commission figures, just 30 of the 275 lawmakers had been elected as of Wednesday.
Residents in Mogadishu told Reuters that, while the capital was peaceful, they had noted a larger-than-usual presence of security troops belonging to Roble’s political supporters, but that they had generally avoided the streets.