MOGADISHU. SOMALIA. The uncompromising tactics and dubious strategies exercised by the political stakeholders who were running the helm of the country for the last three decades. Somalia's regional and global allies expressed grave concern and trepidation about the intensifying spat between the country's president and caretaker prime Minister as heavily armed troops were amassed in the capital and keeping eyeball to eyeball in close vicinity and confrontation could spark at anytime.
Troops loyal to the premier took up positions near the presidential palace and excavated huge trenches and planning to launch an incursion at certain destinations including the state house; the military maneuvering and sabre-rattling come day after President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo announced the suspension of the prime Minister and utterly deposed him and should no longer perform any public duty, while the premier accused the president of an attempted coup. Relations between the pair have long been frosty but latest trend has sparked concerns for Somalia's stability as the country grapples with protracted droughts, resurgence of the new variant omicron of covid_19 pandemic and how to hold the long-delayed elections and to fight the Jihadist insurgency and to pursue the deradicalization program.
On Tuesday, Pro-Roble troops paraded the streets, fuelling fear among Mogadishu dwellers weary of bloody armed confrontation. The Premier Mohamed Hussein Roble defied the executive order to step down as tensions continued over amorphous and long-delayed elections and no one knows or even prognosticate what the outcome of tit-for-tat game and nihilistic ideology will be as Somalia's president suspended the country's prime Minister and marine force commander on Monday, a sharp escalation in political wrangling that threatens and jeopardize and further destabilize the already fragile and tumultuous nation of the Horn of Africa.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed AKA Farmajo suspended the prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble over allegations of corruption, embezzlement, and misuse of public lands. Mr Mohamed's office had earlier accused Mr Roble of posing a serious and pernicious threat to the election process and carrying out activities that breached or violated his mandate. Mr Roble rebuffed and repudiated to accept the order and accused the lameduck president of deploying troops to attack his office and these of the cabinet to prevent them from carrying out their official and assigned duties the move, he said in a televised address were " a blatant attempt to dethrone the government, the constitution and laws of the land" on Monday foreign governments and international observers expressed grave concern and alarm that the rift and dispute could set off yet another cycle of violence in a nation battered or wracked by decades of brutal fighting.
The simmering political impasse blew up into violence in the streets in April, after after Mr Mohamed signed a law extending his tenure for two years. Dissidents of Mr Mohamed former American citizen and bureaucrats along with Western allies denounced the move and many Somalis worried that it could reverse and undermine the modest democratic gains the country has achieved after decades of Civil War, the show down eventually led Mr Mohamed to ask parliament to nullify the extension and request that Mr Roble help organize the delayed elections. Calling Mr Mohamed " The former president " the premier on Monday instructed armed forces to report directly to his office and promised to take action against anyone who defies those orders. He also said Mr Mohamed whose mandate technically lapsed in February of last year, intends to disrupt and sabotage the long-awaited elections so he can illegally remain in office. Somalia is driven by clan politics and analysts say tge rift between the president and the prime Minister who hails from divergent clans threatens to escalate into full-on violence not just among their adherents but also among their clansmen inside the Somali military and security apparatus. On Monday evening armed forces loyal to the opposition of presidential contenders amassed in certain neighborhoods in the capital Mogadishu witnesses said, while Somali military forces fortified the roads leading to the presidential palace.
The process of orchestrating Universal suffrage or one person one vote had ended in vain and futile and the long-delayed indirect polls has not been smooth, with legislative polls encountering plethora of delays, massive fraudulent and irregularities and multiple corruption allegations from candidates and observers. So far only 26 candidates out of the 275 lawmakers for the lower house of the parliament have been elected; with 53 of 54 seats in the upper house or senate being selected through vote-rigging, ballot-stuffing and gerrymandering... Somalia's electoral process is diametrically complex and cumbersome with traditional elders choosing special delegates who select lawmakers, who then choose the country's president. Mr Farmajo has said he wants to move to a more traditional one-person-one vote process which is similar to one occurred in 1968 but his plan soon drew pervasive condemnation from his vitriolic critics describing implausible ambition driven by deranged and too ambitious man who is merely had a desire to grip the authority forever.
The provisional federal constitution gives the president the power to appoint a premier but the power to dismiss or vote no confidence in the prime Minister and his cabinet lies with parliament. A perpetual conflict and squabbling between the president and the prime Minister is not something new to Somali politics it happened as soon as Somalia gained its independence and in late 2000 and 2008 during the late president Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and his prime minister Nour Adde and plunged the entire country into unprecedented , cataclysmic and total disarray. It resurfaced once again in 2012 during the tenure of Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and his premier Dr.Abdiwali Mohamed Ali better known as Gas and polarized the political landscape and the country was on the brink of war of attrition. And it happened once again in 20014-2015 during president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his prime minister Omar Abdirashid and preluded political turmoil and uncertainty and currently it is happening between Farmajo and Roble. Abdirahman Yusuf Omar AKA ( Alcadaala) deputy Minister of information loyal to the caretaker prime Minister called the president's decision a callous, flagrant, or blatant coup.
Writing on his Facebook account, Mr Omar said the deployment of security forces in and around the prime Minister's office would not curtail and prevent Mr Roble from carrying out his duties. The political tussle comes as more than 90 percent of the country faces drought conditions and looming apocalyptic humanitarian catastrophe according to the United nation with almost four million people estimated to be at risk of acute food insecurity. Somalia is also confronting increasing threats from Al-Shebab extremist groups, covid_19 pandemic's negative economic impacts and clashes between rival forces in various parts of the country that have left dozens dead and thousands displaced from their homes. On Monday Mogadishu's denizens said there was heavy presence of troops in the streets with many worrying that the political feud could turn bloody yet again. Farhan Issack Yusuf, an independent political Pundit and deputy executive director of Somali public agenda which is leading local Think-tank in Mogadishu, said the latest suspension " Spirals Somalia into another rocky political crisis "
The international community. Mr Farhan said, should exert colossal pressure on the political actors and elites in Somalia to comply with the existing election covenants, provide stern notice to spoilers with possible serious repercussions and support the prime Minister to deliver his mandate regarding the management of the electoral process. Said Mr Farhan.
On Sunday, the United States, Britain, and other Western countries said they were concerned about the delay in the elections and urged political leaders to attend a Monday meeting convened by the prime Minister to hammer out loggerheads marred the electoral process and speed up elections. But ahead of the meeting, President Mohamed's office on Sunday launched scathing attack and accused the prime Minister of posing a serious threat to the electoral process; and carrying out activities that infringes or violates his mandate which is to organize and hold elections. The prime Minister also mired and encounters investigation on corruption charges. The commander of Somali navy. Brig.general Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, recently; publicly accused top government officials including Mr.Robke of planning to grab and expropriate public land belonging to the coast guard near Mogadishu's port...
In statement released by the presidency. Mr Farmajo accused Mr Roble not only misappropriating the land but also exerting pressure on the defense Minister, which amounts to tampering with the investigation, pending the conclusion of the inquiry. "The duties and powers of the prime Minister remain suspended " Mr Farmajo Siad. The lameduck president also suspended General Dirir, saying the move was crucial for completing the ongoing investigation of the prime Minister. As political turmoil intensified and escalated on Monday, the United nation. The European union and almost two dozen other nations worldwide issued a joint statement urging restraint and dialogue on Somali political leaders also asked officials to take urgent steps to de-escalate tension. " we are deeply saddened the resurgence of political turbulence. The council of presidential candidates also described the dismissal of the prime Minister as a " coup attempt" The presidential candidates council also demanded the president to step down immediately and put an end to the current political stalemate. And unanimously concurred and acknowledged that the root causes of the crisis is how to hold the election. In Somalia parliamentary and presidential elections are held one after another. Elections are held according to the clan-based electoral system called 4.5 formula which offers four major clans an equal share in parliament and cabinet and half share to the minority groups.
The 275 members of the lower house, also known as the "house of the people " are elected for four years by 14, 000 delegates representing different clans in Somalia. Moreover, state councils choose members of upper house the elected members of the upper house elect both the speaker of the assembly and the president. The month-long acrimony has seen President Mohamed Abdullahi and prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble reciprocated allegations over the holding up of parliamentary polls and is widely seen as distracting the government from fighting the Alshebab armed group. It will also raise concern about the prospect of renewed clashes and skirmishes between factions in the security forces allied to each side. In 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 brutal violence " in a separate statement. The US state department Afriacna affairs bureau called the attempted suspension of Roble alarming and said it supported his efforts for rapid and credible elections.
It added that US was also prepared to act against those obstructing Somalia's path to peace and democracy. The UK embassy in Somalia also urged both side to defuse and de-escalate and to refrain from violence, the president had repeatedly accused the prime Minister of posing a serious threat to the electoral process and overstepping his mandate. Roble's office later. On Sunday released its own press statement, saying the president had spent so much time, energy and finances infiltrating the national election and was derailing the electoral process in the statement. Roble said he would hold meetings to find ways to speed up the election and agree on a capable leadership to spearhead timely and transparent elections without elaborating further or without offering more details on how long the process might take. Matt Bryden, political analyst at Sahan Think-tank focusing on the Horn of Africa said Somalia has been in a constitutional crisis since February when the president's mandate expired. The country has been held together by political agreement between stakeholders of the federal government, federal member states and stakeholders in the election; Bryden said.
That was supposed to postpone the elections until today, December 27 that has not happened and that is why we are facing this crisis. He added that Farmajo's intervention has created a situation of real uncertainty and danger. Bryden argued the electoral model was modified by Farmajo to favor his re-election and this will change the current status quo and will contribute to the impasse in the electoral process. The entire process has come down almost to cherry picking, where seat by seat we are seeing riggjng, we are seeing appointees of the president being given seats, and these are the people who will choose the next president. Somalia's nearly year-long constitutional crisis escalated toward outright conflict on Monday as the president attempted to sideline his main rival, the country's prime Minister by suspending his powers. Farmajo was seen as a reformer who would prioritize security and building state institutions in Somalia. But the president had diverted entirely from that trajectory. In one widely shared video that went viral in the digital platforms showing the vice president of Hirshabelle state Yusuf Dabaged told reporters that his administration would pay bribes to traditional elders to handpick their favorite candidates and declared them to be the winners this should be strategic elections in the regional elections. Candidates and traditional elders involved in the selection process jointly held press conference and told the local media that the business is usual while the independent candidates expressed doubt and skepticism towards the electoral body.
Mohamed Osman Jawari, 76, prominent advocate, and two-time speaker of the federal parliament said in an interview that when he had approached the president of the country's South-west state to declare his candidacy and intentions to run, he was told that clan leaders would be instructed to quash his candidature. When he submitted all his papers at the state election implementation team which is meant to be independent body organizing the election fairly and freely. His application was repudiated. The chairperson of Seit told the media that he is unable to accept my application without the approval of the regional president Jawari said furiously. Ahmed Aden Safina Seit Spokesman said the body remains independent and that regional presidents may oversee the approval of candidates but not interfere with the process. He said Jawari' s complaint I'd being reviewed. Before president's move on Monday the US state department issued statement reiterating that it was deeply concerned by the continuing delays and by the procedural irregularities that have undermined the credibility of the election process.
The caretaker prime Minister had officially demanded to assume the entire control or the chain of the command in armed forces until the controversial elections are concluded. The national consultative assembly leaders are reportedly at odds over who should be in charge of the Somalia's security, according to the sources the PM and presidents of Somalia's federal member states and governor of Benadir authority as well as the mayor of Mogadishu met for the fourth day in Mogadishu to discuss and deliberate the best strategy to hold elections and concluding elections on available timeline. Prime Minister Roble has reportedly push for more direct control of Somalia's security apparatus, requesting that the national army be placed under his command during the electoral process. According to the sources, Roble argued that it would be challenging to resolve electoral security as long as the military commander took order from Villa Somalia.
Relations between the PM and president have been strained considerably since Farmajo attempted to suspend Roble in late December over unfounded corruption allegations the move sounds to backfire, as Somalia's cabinet and the international community rallied behind the PM. The reaction by FMS leaders was deeply polarized as some regional presidents. Deni of Puntland and Madobe of Jubbaland have reportedly backed the PM's plan, while remaining three state presidents Qoorqoor of Galmudug Guudlawe of Hirshabelle, Lafta gareen of South-west state and the Benadir governor Omar Finish all of whom have strong ties with Villa Somalia. While the presidency office vehemently lambasted and argued that president Farmajo is the commander of the armed forces and responsible for the entire security of the country.
The PM's security demands have hampered or obstructed the conference's progress and reports suggest that some presidents have threatened to storm out or walk out of the meeting which could lead to highly anticipated meeting ending in failure.the meeting ended inconclusively with the leaders scheduling to resume the conference on Saturday. Dissident presidential candidates had issued fresh demands amid the ongoing national consultative council. (NCC) meeting in Mogadishu which seeks to solve a host of issues overshadowing elections in the Horn of Africa nation. On Tuesday tge opposition maintained that only 135 registered elders must choose delegates, publish names before the election day to avoid current confusion and turmoil which led to the cancellation of number of controversial seats in the lower chamber of the federal parliament and eventually call for nullification of all disputed parliamentary seats.
Further the opposition said electoral committee must verify delegates, publish their names and identity before the election day the opposition of presidential aspirants urged PM Roble to take charge of full control of the security in Somalia adding that outgoing president Mohamed Farmajo should stay out and remain only as a candidate. International community had appealed all political stakeholders to mitigate tensions and crisis, show restraints, de-escalate, and defuse hostile confrontations, refrain from taking unilateral decisions without consultation and avoid all forms of violence including the use of excessive and disproportionate force against innocent civilians and admonished the national army to step aside and not to mingle with the politics, otherwise they would defund. And exhorted (NCC) To use the ongoing consultative talks in Mogadishu to rectify and redress those deficiencies and make the process more transparent and credible. The national consultative council (Fgs-Fms) should set a timeline for the accomplishment of the elections in Somalia that is realistic, achievable and to which all the federal member states leaders genuinely committed international partners strongly emphasized.
In the latest twist and turn tge lameduck president had ordered central bank governor not to release $9.6M in which UAE money. While the caretaker prime Minister pledges to refund back to Emirates. The perpetual squabbling between the top echelons is evolving minute by minute. Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi authorized the central bank governor not to release approximately $10M in illicit money on Friday that was seized and impounded from United Arab Emirates (UAE) in 2018 at Aden Adde international Airport in Mogadishu.
H.E @ M- Farmajo lameduck president of the federal Republic of Somalia authorized Governor of central bank @CBs Somalia again releasing illicit money $9.6M USD which was seized and confiscated by our gallant Somali security forces monitoring on eagle eye on the airport's activities.to any entity which seeks claim, due to its illegal entry to our nation.
The presidential palace communications director Abdirashid Mohamed Hashi said on Twitter. It came hours after Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble publicly apologized to the UAE for the seizure and openly declared his government will give the money back.
A new dawn of Normalizing relations based on mutual benefit, respect, and support after period of frosty relations. Somalia and UAE are now on progressive path to iron out their dissension and resume the bilateral and brotherly based diplomatic ties between the two countries.
PM Mohamed Hussein Roble said that Somalia will give back to UAE the seized cash in 2018 said government spokesman
Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimu; the announcement had coincided with offering ceremony in which Mr Roble received 55 tons of aid from the UAE at the Mogadishu Airport the money has been at the central bank and it led Somalia's diplomatic relations with the UAE closed a huge military facility and hospital they have been running in Mogadishu after the diplomatic spat. Somalia accused the UAE several times of inciting violence, insurrection and intentionally instigated chaos in the African Country. UAE had categorically refuted these allegations.
In March, 2018 the lower chamber of Somalia's federal parliament banned or proscribed a UAE state-owned ports operator, DP world, from the Horn of Africa country declaring it a serious threat to Somalia's sovereignty, independence, unity and territorial integrity. Somalia is a toddler country which is recovering from the legacy and scourge of the Civil war.and currently encountering an uncertainty due to the long-delayed parliamentary polls. The country was already grappling with the protracted droughts, floods, famine and locust infestation which jeopardized the development.
The constitutional mandate of the executive and legislative branches terminated. Article 91of the Somali provisional constitution states that the president of the federal Republic of Somalia shall hold office for a term of four years; starting from the day he takes the oath of the president in accordance with article 96 of the constitution. According to the sitting president was elected and performed the oath of the president of the federal Republic of Somalia in February 2017. And international community are dithering and vacillating to act seriously and become a good mediator for this political deadlock among top officials But, if the Somalia's partners remain hesitant to this quagmire, then the conflict may take it longer. Somalia is one of African countries where democracy did not last too long the two leaders are orchestrating propaganda and smear campaign against each other, this chronic conflict may trigger a full-blown armed confrontation s because all sides seem to be lacking the political maturity, will and commitment that this country currently needs, and clannish mentality can usher a bloody and deadly hostility among the clans.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Mohamed Hussein Mentalist. Author, blogger, prominent researcher, Horn of Africa Affairs analyst, and senior lecturer at Mogadishu University.
Author: holds BA in English Language and literature at Mogadishu University and BA in Business administration at Simad University. Master of arts in applied Linguistics at Kisii University in Nairobi. As well as Master of peace and conflict studies at Uppsala University in Sweden.