Somalia transitional parliament extends term three years, prompting criticism(Read article summary)
The vote of Somalia's transitional parliament to extend its term may damage its international credibility and undermine support in the West.
Mohamed Sheikh Nor/AP
â€śThis is a disappointing decision taken in haste without the required level of discussion and consultation on how to end the transition,â€ť the UNâ€™s special representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, said.
â€śOur concern is that the international community has urged the Somali government to consult very wisely with Somalis â€“ including those in the diaspora â€“ and their international partners to find a way forward,â€ť said Matt Goshko, public affairs officer at the US Embassyâ€™s Somali affairs unit in Nairobi, Kenya.
Goshko said the transitional parliament disregarded an African Union request for expanded consultation.
â€śTheir decision to extend was unilateral, it was hurried, it was not in the best interest. And thatâ€™s why we are asking them to reconsider.â€ť
â€śIt is deeply regrettable that the TFP have chosen to ignore the request of the African Union and the UN for wide consultation before taking action,â€ť he said in a statement.
â€śThe Somali people, who continue to suffer the appalling effects of 20 years of conflict, deserve better.â€ť
Parliamentâ€™s self-extension has clearly damaged its international credibility, and given that Somaliaâ€™s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) relies heavily on international support, the move could represent a Pyrrhic victory for Somali lawmakers. Policymakers in the US have already been thinking about strengthening relations with regional governments in Somalia, such as Somaliland and Puntland, and a perception that the TFG is stubborn could push Washington further toward engagement with these other actors.
Parliamentâ€™s moves make the short-term trajectory of (attempted) governance in Somalia more unpredictable in other ways as well. Dr. Michael Weinstein writes that the TFGâ€™s transition, scheduled for August, is â€śimploding,â€ť and that international actors are increasingly dissatisfied with the TFGâ€™s approach to the final months of its mandate. Open conflict between the TFG and its international backers could therefore not only strengthen regional players in Somalia, but could also tear up the road map for this yearâ€™s transition. If the TFG overstays its welcome and the international community balks, that conflict could affect the civil war and the next incarnation of a would-be Somali state.