MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia's president is ruling out the possibility of holding elections that are due next year, citing security challenges stemming from an Islamic insurgency. Opposition parties charge that that his government is taking advantage of poor security to extend its mandate through postponement of elections.
National elections are impossible amid rampant violence orchestrated by the Somali Islamic extremist group al-Shabab, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said in a statement. Mohamud's term expires in August.
Mohamud denied the opposition allegations. In his statement, he said that his government intends to focus on a review of the Constitution as well as building a strong national army.
Elected in 2012, Mohamud's government has struggled to assert its authority across the Horn of Africa nation. Although al-Shabab militants have been driven out of their major strongholds over the years, they still control some parts of rural Somalia from which they plot attacks.
Al-Shabab, which has ties with al-Qaida, has stepped up lethal attacks in recent months, targeting African Union forces, government officials and foreigners.
On Sunday, at least 15 people were killed when a suicide bomber detonated his explosives-laden truck at the upscale Jazeera Hotel in the capital, Mogadishu.