Nairobi, Kenya, May 8 – The African Union on Saturday named former Ghanaian president John Mahama its High Representative to Somalia to try and resolve a dire political crisis due to a dispute over delayed elections.
Mahama’s aim would be “a mutually acceptable compromise towards an all-encompassing resolution for the holding of Somali elections in the shortest possible time,” the AU said in a statement.
The continental body’s chairman Moussa Faki urged Somali leaders to “negotiate in good faith… for an inclusive settlement to the electoral crisis”.
Somalia needs “a democratically elected government with the legitimacy and mandate to resolve the remaining outstanding political and constitutional issues that are posing a threat to the stability of the country and the region as a whole,” Faki added.
Mahama, a 62-year-old who led Ghana from 2012 to 2017, is expected in Somalia “in the coming days”.
The country’s political crisis has sharpened in recent weeks, following a resolution to extend the term of incumbent president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed by two years.
No election could be organised before Mohamed, widely known as Farmajo, reached the end of his term on February 8.
Both the Somali opposition and international players condemned the attempt to extend Mohamed’s presidency, and opposition fighters took up positions in the capital in late April — prompting a tense standoff with government troops.
Three were killed in fighting between the two sides when the opposition arrived last month, prompting tens of thousands of civilians to flee their homes.
Farmajo has since ordered Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to set up elections as soon as possible and bring together the leaders of Somalia’s regional states later this month.
The deal was enough to secure the withdrawal of opposition fighters from the capital.