The UN in Somalia says it is deeply concerned by armed clashes in Mogadishu overnight and on Friday morning.
In a statement on Friday, the UN Somalia called for calm and restraint by all parties involved, and urged that open lines of communication be maintained to help reduce tensions.
“The UN in Somalia notes that the clashes in Mogadishu underscore the urgent need for Federal Government and Federal Member State leaders to come together to reach political agreement on the implementation of the 17 September electoral model,” the statement said.
The federal government of Somalia and opposition leaders have traded accusations of attacking each other’s positions on Thursday night following a heavy exchange of gunfire in Mogadishu ahead of planned opposition rally on Friday.
Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud accused government troops of attacking Hotel Maida where he is staying alongside his predecessor Sharif Ahmed.
In response, Somali government accused “armed militias” of attacking positions of government troops in Mogadishu. Security minister Hassan Hundubey Jimale said in a statement that government troops defended themselves against the attack.
While the opposition maintained it would go ahead with the protests, the government said all public gatherings are suspended due to Covid-19.
There was also gunfire on Friday morning as former Prime Minister Hassan Khaire led protesters in Mogadishu.
Reacting to the shooting, Khaire said he and several other candidates, including MPs, survived an “assassination attempt”.
WHAT IS THE ISSUE?
The opposition is Somalia say they don’t recognise Mohamed Farmaajo as President after his term ended on February 8 due to delay on reaching an agreement on the election model.
Election talks ended without a deal in Dhusamareb town earlier this month after President Farmaajo and regional leaders disagreed over election management. Farmaajo called for a follow up meeting in Mogadishu from Feb 18-19, which seems almost unlikely to take place given the situation.
Somalia international partners have sustained pressure on the country’s leaders to find consensus on electoral implementation as an urgent matter of national interest.