February 20, 2021
By Mohammed Dhaysane | Anadolu Agency
Opposition condemns ‘unjustified aggression’ against protesters in capital, says will not be deterred by gov’t tactics
MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia’s opposition on Saturday vowed to push on with protests against the delay of the country’s elections, a day after violence flared up in the capital.
At least four people, including soldiers, were killed and three more wounded in a gunfight between military personnel and opposition members near the presidential palace in Mogadishu on Friday.
Condemning the “unjustified aggression” against demonstrators, opposition parties said they will not be deterred by such strong-arm tactics.
“After discussing the current situation in the country, the opposition has decided to continue protests,” opposition leader and former President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed said at a news conference in the capital.
Ahmed said he had supported the rebuilding process of the Somali military as president and it was “unfortunate that these same soldiers were told to use force against us.”
Somalia’s opposition parties have launched protests against the government’s decision to defer elections, calling on President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to step down as his constitutional mandate expired on Feb. 8.
In a bid to quell the demonstrations, the government has barred all public gatherings in the country, citing coronavirus risks.
It has said the president will remain in office until elections are held, as approved in a resolution passed by the Somali parliament.
Journalists decry harassment
Media workers have been arrested, threatened, denied access, and had their equipment confiscated in Mogadishu, a journalists’ union said on Saturday.
“We strongly condemn the arbitrary arrests of journalists. This shows the worsening track record of Somali security forces when it comes to treatment of journalists in Somalia. This is really worrying for us,” Abdalle Ahmed Mumin, secretary general of the Somali Journalists Syndicate, told Anadolu Agency.
A statement issued by the group called for action against “any officer responsible for these acts.”
“Arresting journalists, confiscating their equipment, intimidating at gunpoint and denying them to have access, just because the journalists are reporting about protests that the government does not want, is a blatant violation against freedom of the press and a violation of the Constitution and all international laws,” read the statement.