Somalia President, Parliament Speaker dispute over TFG term

A new political dispute has emerged between Somalia's president and parliament Speaker regarding the mandate of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG), which is set to expire in August 2011, Radio Garowe reports.

Inside sources say the dispute emerged after President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed asked parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden to complete appointments of new MPs.

President Sharif wants the new MPs to help him extend his term in office through a parliament vote, the sources added.

The TFG mandate expires in August 2011, following President Sharif's election at the end of Djibouti Process in January 2009.

Speaker Sharif Hassan has reportedly refused to swear-in new MPs to the 550-seat TFG Parliament, adding that a new Federal Constitution will be drafted after which point there will be a new presidential election.

President Sharif was reportedly frustrated with the Speaker' s decision, since President Sharif wanted what some experts have referred as an illegal term extension.

The TFG Parliament has nearly 100 seats empty, according to legislative sources. President Sharif, who was granted 200 extra seats of parliament by the Djibouti Process organized by former UN Special Envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, wants the empty MP seats filled with loyalists so the parliament will vote in favor of a term extension.

Since coming to office, President Sharif's weak administration has relied heavily on the military support of African Union peacekeepers (AMISOM), who maintain security at key junctures in Mogadishu, including the Villa Somalia presidential palace.

The former head of TFG, President Abdullahi Yusuf who resigned in Dec. 2008, controlled approximately 70% of areas in south-central Somalia. However, under Sharif’s leadership, Al Shabaab militants now control 80% of areas in south-central Somalia.

The new political dispute between President Sharif and Speaker Sharif Hassan worsened this week after the Speaker returned from an overseas trip, according to sources.

These two leaders have been allies since 2007, when they set up an opposition group in Eritrea to challenge the polices of former President Yusuf.

Insiders tell Garowe Online that President Sharif' s decision to appoint Somali-American Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed "Farmajo" as Prime Minister and the subsequent naming of a lean 18-member Cabinet filled with technocrats was aimed at convincing the international community to extend President Sharif’s term.

Somalia has been fragmented since 1991 when the country' s last effective central government collapsed and the nation imploded.

The TFG was formed in 2004 and has faced armed resistance from warlords and Islamist insurgents in southern Somalia.

GAROWE ONLINE

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