Chaos is parliament as MPs oust Somalia's PM in no confidence vote
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Chaos rocked Somalia parliament on Saturday after MPs voted in favor of impeachment motion against PM Hassan Ali Khaire, in what is seen as a culmination of bitter wrangles between him and President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, which were triggered by the dispute on the model and date for elections.
Although their squabbles have been kept under the table, their differences were greatly exposed by the calls for timely elections, which saw Khaire openly support regional leaders, who ruled out plans to have universal suffrage polls, which they insisted would lead to unprecedented term extensions for the current regime.
And MPs responded to the standoff between the two leaders by passing the vote of no confidence against Khaire's government, effectively ending the PM's mandate. But the unprecedented turnout of events could ignite bitter dispute and probably wreck regional and federal government talks, which are set to resume on August 15.
Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman announced the ouster of Khaire shortly after midday on Saturday, after a vote which saw 170 MPs vote in favor of the motion. Eight MPs voted against the motion but the anti-Khaire team carried the day having garnered a two-thirds majority according to the law.
The speaker, who is a close ally of Farmajo, urged the president to immediately appoint a Prime Minister who would lead the country to "popular election". His sentiments reiterate commitment by the current regime to deliver a one-person-one-vote election, which has been opposed by Khaire, opposition bigwigs, and FMS leaders due to time constraints.
MPs against the ouster of Khaire staged a protest within parliament, accusing the president of "frustrating" the hard-working Prime Minister. Somali Lower House has a total of 275 MPs who were elected in 2017 following the clan-based elections, which the current government and international partners are determined to erode.
Saturday's development comes barely two days after Farmajo and regional leaders agreed to constitute a committee that would propose a proper model for timely elections. The term of the current government expires in November, and the National Independent Electoral Commission [NIEC] has already ruled out delivering universal suffrage polls in time.
The leadership is set to convene on Dhusamareb in the next two weeks where an appropriate model would be unveiled. The preliminary agreement was hailed by the opposition team and federal states' leadership, which insisted that the country cannot afford to delay elections.
"The Wadajir Party commends the agreement that the election will be held on time with no term extension, in accordance with the provisional constitution, as well as the agreement to form a technical committee to provide guidance on implementable electoral model accepted by all," Abdishakur Warsame, the leader of Wadajir party had said.
On Friday, the United States and the international community also seemed to rescind their earlier push for one-person-one-vote elections, arguing that the Dhusamareb conference should help the country come up with compromise electoral model before the implementation of universal suffrage in the next cycle of elections.
The ouster of Khaire could now trigger heated political temperatures in Somalia, a country that has struggled with inter-clan conflicts, internal political squabbles, and Al-Shabaab menace for almost three decades. Khaire is seen as a progressive leader who has successfully negotiated for debt relief on behalf of Somalia.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has since accepted the shock decision by parliament to impeach Khaire, adding that a new PM will be appointed in the coming days to seal the gap. The two have been working closely and have rarely shown their differences in public.
“He will soon appoint a new prime minister,” said the statement posted on the state radio’s website, but did not disclose the exact timeline before the new appointment. Among others, MPs accused Khaire of "failing" to deliver constitutional referendum and universal suffrage polls.
Lower House has been on the receiving end in recent days following the approval of the contentious electoral Bill, which the Senate has refused to approve due to the current impasse. Senate Speaker Abdi Hashi Abdullahi recently accused the Lower House of passing unconstitutional bills in favor of the current administration.