Gunfire erupts in Somali capital amid president's standoff

Gunfire has erupted in Somalia’s capital between soldiers loyal to the government and others angry at the country’s leader as tensions spiked over President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s extended stay in power

Somalia Gunfire
Somalia Gunfire

Gunfire erupted in Somalia’s capital on Sunday between soldiers loyal to the government and others angry at the country’s leader as tensions spiked over President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s extended stay in power.

There were no reports of casualties, but the gunfire heard across much of the city highlighted earlier warnings that the election standoff could increase instability in the Horn of Africa nation.

The estimated hundreds of mutinous soldiers, still in uniform, took up key positions in northern Mogadishu as some residents hid. There was no immediate comment from the government.

Somalia’s president faces growing opposition in the country and abroad after the lower house of parliament approved a two-year extension of his mandate and that of the federal government and he OKed it, to the fury of Senate leaders and vocal criticism of the international community. The African Union was the latest to condemn the actions.

Somalia’s election, meant for early February, has been delayed amid disputes between the federal government and the states of Puntland and Jubbaland along with the opposition.

The soldiers were believed to have entered the city from military bases outside Mogadishu. Most of them belong to the clan of former presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. Both have vowed to forcefully dislodge the president if he does not return to negotiations over the election delay or resign.

Mohamed in a tweet alleged that forces loyal to the president has attacked his house, adding that “I've warned and am now repeating how dangerous it is to politicize security. (Mohamed) will shoulder the responsibility of whatever happens as a result of this.”

“We cannot accept another Siad Barre,” one of the mutinous soldiers said, referring to the dictator whose toppling in 1991 led to three decades of conflict, first among warlords and then by the al-Shabab extremist group.

A few hundred demonstrators gathered on Sunday chanting “We don’t want dictatorship” and burned the president’s photo.

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