Police in Somalia opened fire Friday on a group of people protesting the country’s delayed election.
Tensions between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and the Somali opposition have risen following the cancellation of the nation’s Feb. 8 election. The election was canceled after government officials representing each of Somalia’s five provinces could not come to an agreement with the president about what the process would look like, according to the Foreign Brief.
When hundreds of people, including an opposition leader, protested the cancelation in the streets of Mogadishu, security forces opened fire, according to the Associated Press (AP). A death toll has not been confirmed, but “some have died,” according to Hassan Ali Khaire, the politician leading the march.
The street shootings were preceded by violence near the presidential palace the night before, the AP reported. The Somali government claimed that the military shooting was in response to violence committed by the opposition.
Somali PM says he regrets the clashes in Mogadishu, reiterates claim that govt troops were attacked first, promises govt will not accept protests led by armed men. The opposition on their side claim govt forces attacked first. The city is calm now; political situation uncertain. https://t.co/RgOqevIvla
— Harun Maruf (@HarunMaruf) February 19, 2021
A Feb. 8 meeting in which government officials had expected to plan the election was bombed by the terrorist organization al-Shabaab. Twelve government officials were killed. (RELATED: (Al-Shabaab Blows Up Somali Capital After The US Targets Top Leader)
The United States and other Western countries have often supported the Somali government in its fight against al-Shabaab and other terrorist groups. “If we don’t have the support of the Americans, we cannot stand on our own feet,” Somalia’s defense minister said in 2017. The United States has a small troop presence in Somalia, whose mission is to train and lend support to local military and police officials against al-Shabaab.