The UN and other international bodies on Sunday sounded the alarm over a political crisis in Somalia, where delayed elections have inflamed tensions with the country's breakaway regions.
In a joint statement, the UN, EU, African Union and others said they were “highly concerned” by the “ongoing political stalemate in Somalia over the holding of delayed elections” and the “continuing impasse” between the federal government and regional leaders.
Somalia has been wracked by a political crisis and violent protests since President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo’s four-year term expired on February 8 and a parliamentary vote to pick his successor was delayed because new representatives had yet to be picked.
The UN and others urged Somali leaders to “prioritise the national interest of Somalia and immediately return to dialogue".
The international bodies called on Somali politicians "to ensure that no actions are taken that would undermine the stability of Somalia”.
They should also “continue the progress made in state-building and inclusive politics, especially elections and peaceful transition of power, and … deliver today on the vital interests of the Somali people for peaceful, free, fair, and credible elections”, it said.
Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu, a spokesman for the federal government, said on Twitter on Sunday that Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was pushing for elections and tackling the “current political challenges”.
The deadlocked transition stoked tension in Somalia, which was ripped apart by decades of civil war and still battles an insurgency by Al Shabab, an extremist group that frequently carries out attacks in the capital Mogadishu and elsewhere.
Officials in two of Somalia's semi-autonomous regions, Jubaland and Puntland, expressed concerns over the expiration of Mr Mohamed's term. Protests in the capital Mogadishu have led to violence.
Somalia planned to hold elections to pick a president and representatives in what would have been the country's first direct vote since a civil war erupted in 1991 and toppled long-standing dictator Siad Barre.
But plans for a general election were marred by delays as the country faced a sharp increase in Al Shabab raids, and the process was switched instead to an indirect vote in which political representatives are selected by a group of elders and others.
Separately on Sunday, the UN's humanitarian co-ordinator in Somalia, Adam Abdelmoula, warned of a worsening drought in the Horn of Africa nation, where water shortages have forced about 116,000 people from their homes since October.
“I am deeply concerned that we are facing increasing needs with diminishing resources,” said Mr Abdelmoula, while appealing for funds.
“We can mitigate the impact of drought, but urgent and immediate action is needed now as experience has taught us from the response to the 2016/17 severe drought.”