The African Union has appointed Ghana’s former President John Dramani Mahama as its High Representative to Somalia to help resolve the political crisis in that country.
In a statement, the AU said Mahama will ensure there is “a mutually acceptable compromise towards an all-encompassing resolution for the holding of Somali elections in the shortest possible time.”
Tension in Somalia has heightened in recent weeks, following a resolution to extend the term of incumbent president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed by two years.
Mahama will be supported by African Union Mission in Somalia to ensure that the mediation efforts and the peace support operation work together seamlessly.
Somalia’s lower house of parliament last month voted to extend the president’s term for another two years to let the country prepare for direct elections, the speaker of the chamber said.
The move underscores widening divisions overextending the four-year term of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who faces growing pressure to quit after his term ended.
The vote to hold a direct election in two years’ time, which would require the federal government and president to stay in office, came amid international pressure on Somali leaders to end the stalemate.
The United Nations has warned that Somalia, rebuilding after three decades of conflict and still rocked by extremist attacks, can hardly afford more instability.
Somalia’s government has been unable for months to reach an agreement on how to carry out the election, with the regional states of Puntland and Jubbaland objecting on certain issues and the international community warning against holding a partial election or a mandate extension.