US to Impose Visa restrictions to Somali leaders implicated in scuttling of elections
The US government has announced that it will impose sanctions against any Somali leader who is found to undermine and derail the democratic process in Somalia. U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken in a statement on Tuesday evening said they will institute Visa restrictions to Somali officials and that the restrictions will extend from the current to former government officials and their immediate family members. Blinken who did not give particulars of Somali government officials who will be imposed on punitive measures said that those found to scuttle and rig the elections will be placed under Visa restrictions. "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.”read the statement. Blinken urged Somali regional State leaders to complete the long running parliamentary elections in a “credible and transparent manner” by February 25. The statement by the Secretary of State barely comes after Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo marks his fiveth year stay in office despite his constitutional term expiring an year ago. However, President Farmajo received credentials on Monday upon returning from the AU Summit in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia from the newly appointed US ambassador to Somalia Larry André at Villa Somalia. In a statement, the US Embassy said the two discussed urgent need to conclude credible, transparent and inclusive elections. Somalia's ongoing Parliamentary elections have allegedly been characterized by fraud and electoral manipulation as State leaders are on a spree to produce and come up with candidates who espouse the same political ideologies with them. Elections in Somalia have missed deadline of their completion due to longstanding dispute and rift between President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble who have occasionally accused each other of being an impediment to a smooth electoral process.