Opposition candidates

Former Presidents Hassan Sheikh Mohamud (L) and Sharif Sheikh Hassan (R)

Mogadishu (HOL) – The Council of Presidential Candidates is gearing up for planned protests against President Farmajo on Friday despite an order from the Somali government banning all public gatherings in a bid to quell rising coronavirus cases in the country.

The council, which is led by former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, announced that they would no longer recognize President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as Somalia’s head of state after his mandate.

Starting from 8th February 2021, the council of opposition candidates does not recognize Farmaajo as president,” they said in a statement. “The council will not accept any form of mandate extension through pressure.”

The coalition of presidential hopefuls arrived in Nasahablood 2 Hotel, the de facto base of operations for the council, in Mogadishu to begin preparations for the demonstration. The committee called on security forces not to interfere in the demonstrations, saying that civilians’ right to protest. They added that the demonstrations would go on as planned in the face of Somalia’s latest restrictions on public gatherings.

At a press conference on Wednesday, Somalia’s Information Minister Osman Abukar Dubbe; and Somalia’s Health Minister, Fowzia Abikar, announced that public gatherings would be banned. Students were sent home for the foreseeable future as schools and universities shuttered their doors. An exception was made for madrassas and mosques, which will remain open but still must adhere to social distancing rules.

“We have recorded several deaths of patients exhibiting coronavirus symptoms in recent days. We are hearing people who had the virus symptoms died and buried before they were registered,” said Abikar.

The demonstrations are expected to take place Friday morning between 8:00 am and 2:00 pm at the Daljirka Dahsoon monument or the unknown soldier’s tomb in Mogadishu. The U.S State Department’s Overseas Security Advisory Council has advised its citizens to avoid the area and have evacuation plans that do not rely on American government assistance.

“Somalia’s opposition presidential candidates have called for protests against President of Somalia Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmaajo” and delays to the country’s electoral process.  Given the risk of violent crime and civil unrest, U.S. citizens should avoid these demonstrations and any demonstration-related activities. “

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