The United Nations envoy to Somalia has criticized an announcement by the country's president that general elections will not be held in 2016. The statement by the U.N. came amid accusations by opposition parties in Somalia that President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud was exploiting the country's poor security situation to remain in power. 

“Any term extension beyond the designated mandate will be unacceptable,” Nicholas Kay, the U.N.'s special representative to Somalia, said in Mogadishu on Wednesday, Hiiraan Online, a Somali news website, reported.

The country's ruling party has denied recent accusations that failing to hold popular elections would work against the government's stated goal of opening the country to greater freedoms, and said continuing rampant violence has kept the country unprepared for elections. While the conflict-ridden nation will not hold general elections, it was likely to find an alternative to a general election, such as holding a vote for regional leaders, Reuters reported.

“We never promised 'one person, one vote' and to make a ballot box available in every meter of the country,” Mohamud told Voice Of America. “We promised a better process than the one that brought us [to power] -- an easier and more dignified process.”

Mohamud became president in 2012 and vowed to increase security and democracy. He was chosen by parliamentary members who were selected by Somali elders. It was Somalia's first vote since 1991, when the country spiraled into a civil war following the ousting of Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, its democratically elected president, Reuters reported.




“We are not arguing everything is 100 percent correct. We are not claiming perfection," Mohamud said in the interview with Voice of America. "We are arguing that there’s progress on the political, economic and security fronts. But convincing the people about this will depend on a transfer of power to the next government without conflict, disturbance, friction or chaos. That is a duty on our shoulders.”

While the al Qaeda-linked militant group al-Shabab continued to wage a brutal insurrection against Somalia's government, the group has lost some of its key territory in recent years. However, the organization continued carrying out deadly attacks against African Union troops, civilians and politicians. A car-bomb linked to the militant group exploded outside a popular Mogadishu hotel, killing at least 13 people Sunday.

Earlier this month, the government -- along with support from the African Union -- launched a renewed offensive against al-Shabab militants. Mohamud said he would seek re-election, although he denied he would use any undemocratic means to extend his government's mandate.