UN and partners urge feuding Somalia leaders to reduce tensions

A Somalia government official said Prime Minister Mohammed
Hussein Roble had separately talked with Molly Phee, US assistant secretary of
state for African affairs, on the political situation in Somalia, which is also
seen by analysts as distracting the government from fighting an Islamist
insurgency by the al Qaeda-allied al Shabaab group.

Phee’s office said on Twitter late on Wednesday she had also
spoken with President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, urging him to support Roble to
complete parliamentary elections quickly. The elections began on Nov 1 and were
supposed to be finished by Dec 24, but by Wednesday only 30 of the 275
representatives have been elected, according to the election commission.

“The United Nations and international partners are in
contact with all sides to urge de-escalation,” said Ari Gaitanis,
spokesperson for the UN Somalia office.

The talks involved the global body’s partners in Somalia who
include the United States, the United Kingdom, the European Union and others,
Gaitanis said.

On Wednesday the group met separately with the president and
a group of candidates who are aiming to run against him in a presidential

“Their goal at both meetings was to encourage Somalia’s
leaders to put the country’s interests first and to focus on correcting
electoral deficiencies,” Gaitanis said.

Roble spoke with Phee about “the political situation in
Somalia, security and elections,” Somalia federal government spokesman

Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said on Twitter.

The president on Monday suspended the prime minister for
suspected corruption, a move Roble said was a coup attempt and asked all
security forces to take orders from his office.

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For a second day on Wednesday, security forces belonging to
politicians allied to the prime minister camped in an area near the
presidential palace.

Mogadishu residents told Reuters although the capital was
calm they had noticed a bigger-than-usual presence of security forces belonging
to Roble’s political allies, but that they had largely kept away from the

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