The delay in the conclusion of Somalia’s elections is driving political instability, threatening security gains, and undermining economic development.
On February 8, I announced a visa restriction policy under Section 212(a)(3)(C) of the Immigration and Nationality Act to restrict the issuance of visas for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia. Following the failure to meet another self-established deadline of February 25 for completion of parliamentary elections, the National Consultative Council extended the deadline to March 15. Dozens of parliamentary seats are still unfilled and there is no clear plan to conclude the process. We are now imposing visa restrictions under this policy against a number of Somali officials and other individuals to promote accountability for their obstructionist actions.
Procedural irregularities and partisan use of security forces have undermined an electoral process that is more than a year behind schedule. Journalists and opposition party members working to support democratic institutions and transparent processes have been targeted with harassment, intimidation, arrest, and violence.
The political impasse also has broader implications, including undermining Somalia’s economic reforms and putting in jeopardy timely international debt relief.
Somalia must rapidly complete its parliamentary and presidential elections in a transparent and credible manner. The U.S. government will evaluate additional actions under this policy and other tools at our disposal to promote accountability and to support Somalia’s democratic process. The United States strongly supports the Somali people and remains committed to working to advance democracy and mutual prosperity for both our countries.