Somalia’s president suspends prime minister amid election spat

Relations between President Mohamed and PM Roble have long been frosty, with the latest development raising fresh fears for Somalia’s stability as it struggles to hold elections.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has suspended Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, a day after the two men sparred over long-delayed elections in the troubled Horn of Africa nation.

“The president decided to suspend Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and stop his powers since he was linked with corruption,” the office of the president said in a statement on Monday, accusing the premier of interfering with an investigation into a land grabbing case.

Mohamed also ordered the suspension of the country’s navy commander who previously accused the prime minister of land grabbing and misuse of public land.

Mohamed has accused Roble of trying to influence a probe into a scandal involving army-owned land after the premier sacked the defence minister and replaced him on Sunday.

“The prime minister has pressurised the minister of defence to divert the investigations of the case relating to the grabbed public land,” Monday’s statement said.

But Roble hit back, accusing Farmajo of attempting “to take over the office of the prime minister by force (in) a move violating the constitution and the law of the country”.

“The prime minister… is committed to not being deterred by anyone in fulfilling his national duties in order to lead the country to elections that pave the way for peaceful power transfer,” said the statement released by Roble’s office.

Hamstrung elections

On Sunday, Mohamed accused his prime minister of failing to undertake his mandate to lead the country through the polls as he was tasked.

Roble said the president was intentionally disrupting the ongoing general elections., in a spat analysts say may distract the government from its fight against the al Qaeda-linked insurgency Al Shabaab.

Parliamentary elections began on November 1 and were supposed to be completed by December 24, but one newly elected lawmaker said that as of Saturday only 24 of 275 representatives had been elected.

“The Prime Minister is posing a serious threat to the electoral process and overstepping his mandate,” Mohamed’s office said in a statement on Sunday.

Roble’s office later put out its own statement saying the president had spent “so much time, energy and finances in frustrating the national elections” and was “derailing the electoral process.”

In April, pro-government and opposition fighters opened fire in the streets of Mogadishu after Mohamed extended his term without holding fresh elections.

The constitutional crisis was only defused when Mohamed reversed the term extension and Roble brokered a timetable to a vote.

But in the months that followed, a bitter rivalry between the men derailed the election again, alarming international observers.

Farmajo and Roble only agreed to bury the hatchet in October, and issued a unified call for the glacial election process to accelerate.

Source: TRTWorld and agencies

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