Secretary of State Antony Blinken said the United States took the step after Somalia pushed back parliamentary elections due to have been completed on Friday.

Somalia's election process has been held up in a power struggle between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble.
Somalia's election process has been held up in a power struggle between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble. (Reuters Archive)

The United States has barred travel by Somali officials and other individuals to the US, accusing them of "undermining the democratic process" in the African country.

Secretary of State Antony Blinken said in a statement on Friday that the US imposed the visa ban after Somalia pushed back its parliamentary elections to March 15. 

"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," Blinken said.

No central government has held broad authority for 30 years in Somalia, which is caught in a lengthy election process. 

It has been held up repeatedly in a power struggle between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble.

READ MORE: Somalia funding at risk over election delays: IMF

Election obstacles

Somalia extended its deadline to finish voting for the lower house of parliament on Friday, the latest in a series of election delays that risk starving the country of budget funds.

The lower house elections were due to be completed on Friday and pave the way for lawmakers to pick a president.

"The National Consultative Council... expressed their disappointment with the fact that they could not meet the deadline," Deputy Information Minister Abdirahman Yusuf said in a televised address.

The parliamentary election, which started in November, is an indirect process that involves clan elders picking the 275 members of the lower house, who then choose a new president. 

A date for that has not been fixed yet.

Data from the UN Office for the Coordination of Humanitarian Affairs shows 4.3 million people in Somalia are affected by drought, with 271,000 displaced as a result.

The al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group, which frequently carries out gun and bomb attacks in capital Mogadishu and elsewhere in Somalia, has also been an impediment to the election.

READ MORE: Deaths as car bomb hits Somalia election delegates

Source: Reuters