Brief exchanges of gunfire in the Somalian capital Mogadishu

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There were two brief exchanges of gunfire in the Somalian capital Mogadishu Sunday on the margins of a demonstration by opponents of the president, police said.

Several dozen opposition supporters marched in protest against President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, whose legal authority has been in doubt since February when his four-year term expired before fresh presidential elections were held.

Armed men present at the protest in the north of the capital exchanged fire with Somali troops, police commander Mohamed Abdirahman said.

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“Militants mobilized by the opposition tried to disturb the peace in Mogadishu. They advanced towards police roadblocks... but the army intervened immediately against them,” he said.

A second exchange occurred later nearby. There were no casualties.

In April, a bill extending the president’s authority by two years bypassed the Senate after being adopted by the lower house of parliament.

Opposition parties slammed the move as an unconstitutional bid to cling to power, and the law was criticized by the international community.

The president and leaders of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous federal states had reached an agreement in September that paved the way for indirect parliamentary and presidential elections in late 2020 and early 2021.

But it fell apart as squabbles erupted over how to conduct the vote, and multiple rounds of talks have failed to break the impasse.

On Friday, the African Union condemned the extension of the president’s mandate.

The UN Security Council also adopted a statement calling on parties in Somalia “to reject violence and resume dialog as a matter of urgency and without precondition,” underscoring its concern over the country’s political crisis.

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