Political rift deepening in Somalia after suspending PM and Navy commander

The recent deepening rift between Somalia’s President and Prime Minister has plunged the Horn of Africa country into political crisis, reported Anadolu Agency.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who took office in 2017, suspended Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble and Naval Forces Commander, Abas Amin Ali, on charges of “corruption” and “abuse of public land.”

The Prime Minister, however, defied the order, describing the President’s decision to suspend him as “outrageous.”

Somalia’s opposition presidential candidates called on the country’s President, Tuesday, to leave office “as soon as possible.”

The country was already facing challenges on multiple fronts with a drought, economic troubles and security issues.

Moreover, the power struggle of regional and global actors over the country has compounded the crisis.

The Somali President and governors met on 17 September last year and agreed that the presidential election would be held on 8 February,2021 and parliamentary elections on 1 January, 2021.

However, due to disagreements in the federal election commissions determined by the government, the election timetable could not be determined.

The three-day talks from 3 – 6 February – between the Somali federal government and regional leaders on delayed elections ended without agreement in the central city of Dhusamareb.

The disagreement on the election timetable continued over naming election commission members in Jubaland and Somaliland and triggered a political crisis.

Moreover, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed remained in his post, despite the end of his term on 8 February, irking opposition parties and some regional leaders.

On 12 April, Somali parliament voted to extend the mandate of the President and the federal government by two years in a bid to end a political stalemate over national elections.

Following the delay of the elections, the opposition announced that they do not recognize Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as President.

Mohamed delegated the management of the election process to the country’s Prime Minister.

The Somali government, led by the President, announced on 27 May that it had decided to hold the postponed elections within 60 days and that the exact timetable would be determined by the electoral commission.

Following the decision of opposition presidential candidates to boycott the elections, a power crisis between President and Prime Minister occurred. Roble dismissed National Intelligence and Security Agency Director, Fahad Yasin, on 6 September, alleging that he had failed to deliver a report on the murder of intelligence officer, Iran Tahlil Farah, who disappeared in June.

Roble appointed Bashir Mohamed Jama as the agency’s interim chief, while President Mohamed named Yasin Abdullahi Mohamed as its head.

Moreover, President Mohamed appointed Fahad Yasin as National Security Advisor.

On 16 September, President Mohamed suspended Roble’s power to appoint and remove officials, accusing him of making “rash and hasty decisions.”

A day later, the Prime Minister dismissed the President’s move as “unlawful,” saying he would “only abide by decisions that are in line with the Constitution.”

On 27 December, President Mohamed stripped Prime Minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble and Naval Forces Commander, Abas Amin Ali, of their power on charges of “corruption” and “abuse of public land.”

The prime minister, however, defied the order, describing the President’s decision to suspend him as “outrageous.”

Somalia’s international partners including the UN, African Union and the EU expressed deep concern over the latest developments in the country.

On 28 December, they called on its leaders to put the country’s interests first, to de-escalate political tensions and to refrain from provocation or the use of force, which could undermine peace and stability.

The Council of Presidential Candidates also described the dismissal of the Prime Minister as a “coup attempt”; the Presidential Candidates Council demanded that the President step down immediately to put an end to the current political crisis.

In Somalia, parliamentary and presidential elections are held one after the other.

Elections are held according to a clan-based electoral system, called 4.5 Formula, which gives four major clans an equal share in parliament and half a share to minority groups.

The 275 members of the Lower House, also known as the “House of People”, are elected for four years by 14,000 delegates representing different tribes in Somalia. Moreover, Members of Upper House are chosen by state councils.

The elected members of the Upper House elect both the Speaker of the Assembly and the President.