The US State Department announced on Wednesday that it is expanding the number of Somali individuals subject to visa restrictions because of Somalia’s failure to hold a parliamentary election. The “self-established deadline of 15 March” was not met, said the department in an official statement.
“I am taking this action pursuant to a policy I announced on 8 February… to restrict the issuance of visas for those believed to be responsible for, or complicit in, undermining the democratic process in Somalia,” explained Secretary of State Antony Blinken. “While encouraging progress has been made over the past few weeks, there are still more than three dozen unfilled parliamentary seats. There are continued credible reports of procedural irregularities.”
He pointed out that journalists and opposition party members working to support democratic institutions and transparent processes have been targeted with harassment, intimidation, arrest and violence. “The US 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.”
Blinken concluded by saying that the US strongly supports the Somali people. “We remain committed to working to advance democracy and mutual prosperity.”