Mohamed Hussein Roble has accused the president of sabotaging the electoral process
A long-running political crisis in Somalia escalated on Monday as the president suspended the prime minister, who blasted the move as an “attempted coup” and asked the armed forces to follow his orders.
The angry exchange came a day after President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who is better known as Farmajo, sparred with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble over the country’s sluggish preparations for elections.
Farmajo’s office on Monday announced the president had “decided to suspend Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and stop his powers since he was linked with corruption,” accusing him of interfering with a probe into a land-grabbing case.
“As the president has seemingly decided to destroy government institutions… I order all Somali national forces to work under the command of the office of the prime minister from today”, Roble told a press conference.
The two men have traded accusations in recent days, with Roble alleging that Farmajo did not want to hold “a credible election”.
“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 by Farmajo’s office said.
The dispute alarmed international observers, prompting the US embassy in Mogadishu to urge Somalia’s leaders “to take immediate steps to de-escalate tensions… refrain from provocative actions, and avoid violence.”
In April, pro-government and opposition fighters opened fire in the streets of Mogadishu after Farmajo extended his term without holding fresh elections.
But in the months that followed, a bitter rivalry between the men derailed the election again.
Somalia’s elections follow a complex indirect model. Nearly 30,000 clan delegates are assigned to choose 275 MPs for the lower house while five state legislatures elect senators for the upper house.
Elections for the upper house have concluded in all states and voting for the lower house began in early November.
On Sunday, the US State Department said it was “deeply concerned by the continuing delays and by the procedural irregularities that have undermined the credibility of the process”.
The Al-Qaeda allies were driven out of Mogadishu a decade ago but retain control of swathes of countryside and continue to stage deadly attacks in the capital and elsewhere.
Originally published as Somalia PM accuses president of ‘coup’ attempt as elections spat deepens