- The suspension marked a new height in the differences between two of Somalia’s highest ranking leaders, which opposition leaders now fear could derail the electoral calendar.
Somalia President Mohamed Farmaajo on Thursday said he had suspended his Prime Minister Hussein Roble’s powers to hire and fire officials, twisting the knife in a relationship that has strained since last month.
In a statement to the media, Villa Somalia which is Farmaajo’s official residence in Mogadishu said the Prime Minister will stay out of his role until after elections are held.
According to the electoral calendar, those elections will be conducted until October 10, but there have been delays on crucial parliamentary polls, suggesting the schedule may drag on.
The suspension on Thursday said Mr Roble had “deviated” from the mandate of the government and violated provisions of the Provisional Constitution of Somalia. Mr Roble will no longer head the government and will have no powers to suspend or dismiss ministers, Villa Somalia said.
Abdirashid M Hashi, President Farmaajo’s spokesman said PM Roble had “not consulted with the President, and proceeded to issue decisions that were inconsistent with the laws and the constitution of the country,” which was now being considered as incompetence on the PM’s part.
He said the President had decided to act and save the country from a potential “political and security crisis”.
Each minister in government will continue to perform his duties and will be responsible for the ministry’s actions until after elections, he said.
“During this period, the various organs of the state shall continue to serve the people as necessary for the functioning of the government, in accordance with Article 102 of the Provisional Constitution.”
The suspension marked a new height in the differences between two of Somalia’s highest ranking leaders, which opposition leaders now fear could derail the electoral calendar.
There had been brushes as early as last month when Roble defied Farmaajo’s orders not to engage with foreign entities until after elections. But the current disagreement is based on which way to investigate the murder of Ikran Tahlil, a spy agent who disappeared on June 26, but which the National Intelligence Security Agency (NISA) says she was murdered by al-Shabaab militants.
Last Monday, PM Roble suspended the Director General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) Fahad Yasin, something which Farmaajo overruled immediately.
Roble ignored Farmaajo’s statement and was waiting to preside a ceremony within three days for his nominee as NISA boss, General Bashir Mohamed Jama, to take office.
Instead, just a day after, Yasin resigned from the post of NISA director on Tuesday, which Farmaajo readily accepted and replaced him with Yasin Abdullahi Mohamud who was until then the commander of NISA operations in Banadir region (Mogadishu and surrounding locations).
Farmaajo’s appointee, Mohamud, wasted no time in taking office while Fahad Yasin who was in Turkey joined the handover ceremony on Wednesday by virtual means and surrendered powers.
That left General Jama, the man chosen by Roble to lead the spy agency, with no chance to go to NISA headquarters and take over the office.
Later, Roble sacked the Internal Security Minister Hassan Hundubey, a decision Farmaajo nullified and appointed Abdullahi Mohamed Nur, a member of the outgoing federal parliament.
Both Farmaajo and Roble have cited articles in the provisional constitution, in defending their actions.
The tiff had raised concerns among development partners and leaders of federal states.
Last week, Presidents Abdiaziz Hassan Laftagareen of South West state and Ahmed Abdi Karie Qoorqoor of Galmudug flew to the Somali capital Mogadishu in a peace-making role.
Their mediation failed, Somalia media reported, as both men couldn’t agree on how to investigate Tahlil’s murder.
Mr Roble had assigned a military court to investigate, only for Farmaajo to create a five-member committee to do the same job. Roble rejected the committee, leaving the actual investigation in limbo.
Farmaajo said elections must go on as planned, in accordance with the agreement of 17 September 2020 and the procedures for resolving the concerns raised on 27 May 2021, and the conduct of the bicameral elections.