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Somalia's president under fire for 'donating' powers to spy chief

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo [File Photo]

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Despite holding talks with top opposition leaders, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo's political woes could be as well far from over, Garowe Online reports.

Seen as a strategy to cool political temperatures in Mogadishu, Farmajo met leaders mainly from Forum for National Parties (FNP) on November 21st at Villa Somalia.

But it's the significant role played by intelligence chief Fahad Yasin which seems to have rattled a section of leaders, who now accuse FGS of 'failing the people'.

Abdirahman Abdishakur, the leader of Wadajir party which is one of the main opposition parties in the country, on Monday questioned the role played by NISA boss in the process of negotiating with FNP leaders.

While delivering a speech to his supporters in Germany, Abdishakur said: "I don't understand why intelligence head played a mediation role in meeting between Farmajo and former presidents."

Abdishakur has accused President Farmajo of "failing" to convince his people in his constituencies of Puntland and Jubaland states and invest energy in ending political crisis since taking office in early 2017.

The former planning minister said the Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire should have have been entrusted with the role to talk with Sheikh Sharif and Hassan Sheikh since both are from his constituency instead of Yasin.

Abdishakur said the country's spy chief has no place in political decisions and faulted to spearhead political negotiations with the opposition leaders who are at loggerheads of the current Federal Government. 

"Where is the Intelligence head is in politics...? Where is the Prime Minister...? Somalia has now a clan-based political system [4.5] and the two leaders [Hassan Sheikh and Sheikh Sharif] are haling from the PM's constituency," he said. 

The PM was conspicuously missing from the Nov. 21 meeting at Villa Somalia which featured former Presidents Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Hassan Sheikh Mohamud that was organized by Fahad Yasin.

Qatar is said to have piled pressure on the two sides to meet. A senior envoy whose name is yet to be established is believed to have visited Somalia last week to a broker peace deal between the two groups.

Farmajo has been working closely with the intelligence chief, who was also recently accused of warning the media against covering opposition rallies before the November 21st deal was brokered.

The meeting coincided with the UN envoy's briefing the UN security council on the latest political situation and upcoming elections in Somalia. 

Despite scanty details from Villa Somalia about three outcomes of the meeting, United Nations envoy James Swan on Thursday hailed Farmajo for seeking a political truce with opponents.

Swan noted, "I very much welcome Wednesday's meeting between President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’ and his two predecessors and encourage more such consultations."

In a press conference after the meeting, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said the FGS leader apologized for 'travel ban' imposed on opposition chiefs.

"He regretted the incidents and promised to rectify such approach in future," Hassan said in reference to controversial trips to Beledweyne and Kismayo in which the former leaders were temporarily blocked.

Somalia's leader, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said, objected any terms extension and promised to ensure that 2020/21 polls are held in time in accordance to the law.

Also discussed extensively is adherence to the constitution and protection of citizen rights. In recent weeks, there have been cases of gross violation of human rights in Somalia.

"As leaders, we agreed to ensure elections are held in time. No term extensions since it can contribute to instability. Protection of the rights of people and the Constitution was also agreed on," he added.

This is the first time opposition chiefs, who have since formed Forum for National Parties (FNP), we're meeting the president after months of the verbal onslaught.

Depoliticizing security forces featured in the talks, following allegations of bias within the police and Somali National Army, Hassan said.

According to him, the meeting resolved that all security forces execute their roles professionally without partiality and prejudices.

"All our security forces will have to work professionally. Nobody should be victimised because of his or her political persuasions," the opposition chiefs said.

Villa Somalia has remained mum over the meeting despite the fact that it was organised by the president himself with an aim of forging a working formula with his opponents.

For months, FNP - Forum for National Political Parties has been accusing FGS of violation of human rights, limitations on freedom of speech, police brutality and illegal travel restrictions on leaders.

United Nations is keen to have a peaceful transition in Mogadishu, with politicians now making realignments ahead of the much-anticipated polls.