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    Friday, March 18, 2022

    US Slaps More Visa Bans on Somali Leaders Over Delayed Elections

    The Biden administration on Wednesday applied visa restrictions to additional Somalians as the United States pressures the African nation's government to complete its long held-up elections.

    The State Department announced the expansion of visa restrictions to an unknown number of Somali individuals in a statement, saying it was in response to Somalia failing to meet its self-established Tuesday deadline to finish parliamentary elections.

    The U.S. punitive measure was applied on the heels of Somalia's Federal Electoral Implementation Team on Tuesday night postponing the announcement of election results for both Houses of Parliament until March 31. Newly elected members of both Houses are now to be sworn in April 14.

    Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed's term in office expired a year ago in February, but presidential elections have been held up over issues between the president and his prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble.

    The Parliamentary elections are to proceed those to decide the president.

    On Feb. 8, the one-year anniversary of the extirpation of Mohamed's term in office, U.S. Secretary of State Antony Blinken restricted the issuance of visas to former and current Somali government officials.

    Blinken said Wednesday that while there has been progress in recent weeks to seat parliamentarians, more than three dozen seats are still vacant.

    There have also been credible reports of procedural irregularities and journalists and opposition party members continue to be the targets of harassment, arrest and violence, he said.

    "We will continue to evaluate additional designations under this policy and other tools at our disposal to promote accountability and support the rapid conclusion of Somalia's electoral process in a credible and transparent manner," he said. "The United States strongly supports the Somali people and remains committed to working to advance democracy and mutual prosperity."

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