Somalia’s president confirmed on Monday that he had suspended the prime minister for suspected corruption, a move the prime minister described as a coup attempt, escalating a power struggle between the two leaders.
The dispute, which has gone on for months, has seen President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed and Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble trade allegations over the holding up of parliamentary elections, and is widely seen as distracting the government from fighting the al-Shabab armed group.
“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.
In response, Roble said the move to suspend his powers was unconstitutional and aimed at derailing the ongoing election. He also ordered the security forces to start taking orders from him, instead of the president.
“The aim of the illegal, crooked steps … is to derail the election and illegally remain in office,” he said in a statement, decrying what he called “an open coup attempt against the government and the national constitution”.
In a Twitter post later on Monday, the United States embassy in Somalia called for calm, saying it “strongly” urged Somalia’s leaders “to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions in Mogadishu, refrain from provocative actions, and avoid violence”.
In a separate statement, the US State Department African Affairs Bureau called the attempted suspension of Roble “alarming” and said it supported his efforts for rapid and credible elections.
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ALJAZEERA
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