Somalia: Farmaajo suspends powers of PM amid worsening political tension
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Outgoing President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo has suspended powers of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble to appoint or dismiss officials, in what he termed as a strategy to "derail elections" in the country, which are currently taking place.
In a statement published by Villa Somalia, Farmaajo, who has been at loggerheads with Roble, confirmed that he had suspended powers of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, accusing him of making “rush decisions” and not having working relations with the President.
The statement has not been published by the state media, another indication of a prolonged blackout, targeting Farmaajo. The state media has been avoiding statements from Villa Somalia, but instead, has been covering all the events done by PM Roble.
According to Farmaajo, the "hasty" decisions by PM Roble could lead the country to political turmoil and security lapse given that "he's not working directly with me". This is a culmination of a fortnight battle that was triggered by the death of Ikran Tahlil, a junior employee within the National Intelligence Security Agency [NISA].
Farmaajo also blamed PM Roble for infringing the constitution and acting beyond his assigned task which is to handle the election process and steer the transition. In May, the PM was given exclusive powers to conduct elections in the country.
Already, senatorial polls have kicked off across Somalia, with 34 of 54 senators confirmed by various regional assemblies. Hirshabelle conducted its senatorial polls on Wednesday, with key allies of Farmaajo losing their seats.
The PM is yet to react to the latest development from Villa Somalia just like a number of opposition candidates and the international partners. On Thursday, Roble had met Somaliland leaders led by Speaker Abdi Hashi and Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Gulaid, who have been having issues with elections in the breakaway region.
The tussle between Farmaajo and PM Roble was ignited by the sacking of Fahad Yasin, who was in charge of NISA after he defied the PM directive on investigations towards the death. Roble picked Lieutenant General Bashir Mohamed Jama alias Goobe to head the institution.
Later, Farmaajo responded by elevating Fahad Yasin to National Security Advisor at Villa Somalia, before appointing Yasin Abdullahi to head NISA, leading to serious conflict with the PM. Already, it seems Goobe managed to take over leadership in the agency.
Within the same time, Roble fired Security Minister Ambassador Hassan Hundubey Jimale replacing him with Abdullahi Nor, contrary to the wishes of Farmaajo. The move further created rifts between the two leaders. Efforts to reconcile them hit a dead end.
But the association may have further deteriorated when Farmaajo appointed a 5-member Commission of Inquiry into the death of Ikran Tahlil, a move which was swiftly declined by the family. Roble also issued a statement, supporting the military courts to execute the mandate.
The family has filed a suit at the military court, where Fahad Yasin and three others are named as prime suspects in the murder. Yasin, the family argues, was in contact with the deceased before her disappearance and subsequent death.
Roble has openly accused Farmaajo of "obstructing justice" to the family, adding that nothing will stop him from ensuring culprits are brought to the book. Analysts argue that Farmaajo is keen to defend his handlers, who have been named in the murder.
The latest twist could derail elections in Somalia further given that stakeholders had ensured Farmaajo handed over security and election responsibilities to Roble after the opposition accused Villa Somalia of interference. An agreement was reached in May.
Roble has already released the calendar for the Lower House and presidential polls. Farmaajo's tenure has been eclipsed with murder, abductions, political intrigues, human rights abuses among other shortcomings. He has already declared candidature for the 2021 polls.