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Last Updated: Feb 11, 2014 - 5:11:05 AM
Somalia: Parliamentarians fistfight for 3rd time over Speaker vote

MOGADISHU, Somalia Jan 3, 2011 (Garowe Online) – Parliamentarians in Somalia have engaged in fist fighting inside parliament hall in Mogadishu for the third times since last month, in a dispute regarding the controversial removal of Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Radio Garowe reports.

On Monday, hundreds of Somali MPs gathered at parliament hall and the meeting was chaired by Ahmed Dhimbil Osowe, Second Deputy Speaker of Parliament.

According to legislators, Monday’s gathering allowed lawmakers to listen to debates among three candidates for the Speaker’s position.

However, as the gathering continued, a rival group of parliamentarians allied to Speaker Sharif Hassan rushed into the hall and an argument erupted.

Somali satellite TV stations showed videos of groups of men engaged in fist fighting, as the background noise was seized by the screaming and shouting. Chairs were thrown and MPs traded punches and kicks, before African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM) stormed into the parliament hall to stop the fighting.

Rival MPs spoke to Somali media, with each group blaming the other group for starting the violent disagreement. Speaker Sharif Hassan’s allies, who stormed into parliament hall on Monday, have refused to allow the rival MPs to hold sessions aimed at voting for a new Speaker.

MP Mohamed Mohamud Gamodhere, who was appointed as chairman of parliament's election commission, adjourned the gathering and told reporters: "Sharif Hassan's supporters disrupted our parliament session. This will not stop us from holding a vote for a new Speaker."

Sharif Hassan has not spoken publicly yet regarding Monday's fighting inside parliament.

On Saturday, TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed told a press conference in Mogadishu that the no-confidence vote against Speaker Sharif Hassan was illegal and accused the rival MPs of “filling the hall with non-parliamentarians.”

READ: President Sharif speaks out against controversial vote by MPs

On Dec. 13, 2011, a group of around 140 MPs gathered at parliament hall and held a no-confidence vote against Speaker Sharif Hassan, who was on a visit to Italy at the time.

On Dec. 14, a day after the MPs – who claimed to number 283 MPs – “voted out” Speaker Sharif Hassan, a fight broke out in parliament between the rival groups of MPs. Again on Dec. 21, another round of fighting broke out inside parliament.

On Dec. 24, TFG President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Speaker Sharif Hassan, along with Puntland and other Somali stakeholders, were signatories to the Garowe Principles – a document that outlined the constitutional tasks and parliamentary reforms ahead, including downsizing Somali parliament from 550 MPs to 225 MPs, as part of the UN-backed Roadmap peace process for Somalia.

READ: Somalia leaders sign Garowe Principles at Constitutional Conference

The UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), led by Amb. Augustine Mahiga, is steering the Roadmap process, but UNPOS has not publicly issued any statements regarding the ongoing parliamentary dispute in Mogadishu.

It is not clear when the parliament infighting will stop, but this new political dispute comes at a time when pro-government forces have gained ground against Al Shabaab extremists and some regions in the country are still reeling from the effects of drought and famine.

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