WASHINGTON: The State Department has barred present as well as the previous Somali officials and others accused of damaging the democratic process in the country from traveling to the United States.
“The best path toward sustainable peace in Somalia is through the rapid conclusion of credible elections,” US Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement.
The visa restrictions will apply to those who have allegedly encouraged and engaged in violence against protesters, intimidation of journalists and opposition members, and manipulation of the electoral process.
Washington has been pushing for quick elections in the Horn of Africa country.
“Somalia’s national and federal member state leaders must follow through on their commitments to complete the parliamentary process in a credible and transparent manner by February 25,” he added.
Somalia, where no central government has held broad authority for 30 years, is in the midst of a protracted indirect election process to choose new leadership.
The process is repeatedly held up amid confrontation between rivals President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble.
In April, an attempt by the president to extend his four-year term by two years led army factions loyal to each man to briefly seize rival positions in Mogadishu.
The raging, months-long dispute is widely seen as distracting the government from fighting an insurgency.