A Somali police truck drive along the empty street in front of the Presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, December 28, 2021. REUTERS/Feisal Omar
December 28, 2021
NAIROBI (Reuters) -The United States has said an attempt to suspend Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble was alarming and that it supported his efforts for quick and credible elections.
The U.S. State Department African Affairs Bureau said in a tweet late on Monday that it was also prepared to act against those obstructing Somalia’s path to peace.
On Monday, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said he had suspended Roble’s powers for suspected corruption, a move the prime minister described as a coup attempt, escalating a power struggle between the two leaders.
“The attempted suspension of … Roble is alarming and we support his efforts for rapid and credible elections,” the bureau said. “All parties must desist from escalatory actions and statements.”
President Mohamed accused Roble of stealing land owned by the Somali National Army (SNA) and of interfering with a defence ministry investigation.
In response, Roble said Mohamed’s action was unconstitutional and aimed at derailing an ongoing election for lawmakers. He also ordered security forces to start taking orders from him, instead of the president.
The months-long dispute between the prime minister and the president is widely seen as distracting the government of the Horn of Africa country from fighting an insurgency against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group. It will also raise concerns about the possibility of renewed clashes between factions in the security forces allied to each side.
In a statement on Tuesday, a politically influential organisation that brings together all presidential candidates looking to contest Mohamed asked him to leave office immediately.
The organisation which calls itself the Council of Presidential Candidates and includes two former presidents asked Mohamed to move out of the presidential palace in Mogadishu “as soon as possible in order to end the crisis”.
Hundreds of troops loyal to the council have camped in areas near the palace, according to a Reuters witness, although it is unclear what their objective is.
On Sunday, Mohamed and Roble accused each other of holding up the parliamentary elections, which began Nov. 1 and were supposed to be completed by Dec. 24, but as of Saturday only 24 of 275 representatives had been elected.
According to Somalia’s indirect electoral process, regional councils are meant to choose a senate. Clan elders are then meant to pick members of the lower house, which then chooses a new president at a date yet to be fixed.
(Reporting by George Obulutsa; Editing by Michael Perry and Emelia Sithole-Matarise)