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US to restrict visas for Somali officials accused of rigging elections

The US government has announced on Tuesday that it has placed visa restrictions on Somali government officials involved in “undermining democracy” in Somalia by rigging the electoral process.

U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement that the ban would extend to current or former government officials and their immediate family members. 

Blinken did not name anyone who has been placed under visa restrictions specifically but said that the individuals are complicit in manipulating the electoral processes through harassment, intimidation, arrest, and violence.

“Today, on the one-year anniversary of the expiration of the Somali president’s term in office, I am announcing the implementation of a policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act that restricts the issuance of visas to current or former Somali officials or other individuals who are believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia, including through violence against protestors, unjust arrests or intimidation of journalists and opposition members, and manipulation of the electoral process.”

Blinken called on Somalia’s federal member state leaders must follow to complete the long and drawn out parliamentary process in a “credible and transparent manner” by February 25.

The statement comes as Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo marks the beginning of his second year in office without a legal mandate to govern. Despite this, Farmajo hosted US ambassador to Somalia Larry André in Mogadishu on Monday, where André presented his diplomatic credentials. 

The US embassy said the two discussed the electoral process after the ceremony. 

Somalia’s indirect electoral process has been marred by accusations of electoral rigging from the onset nearly 18 months ago. The process has been exasperated by the rift between Somalia’s national executive.


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