By Larry Madowo
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo has suspended the powers of the prime minister amid an ongoing tussle for power, triggering calls for calm from the US and UK, and raising concerns of political violence.
Somalia’s presidential office said in a statement Monday that Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was accused “in an ongoing investigation on corruption and abuse of public land.”
“The duty and powers of the Prime Minister remain suspended pending the conclusion of the ongoing investigations,” the statement added.
While Farmajo accused Roble of looting public land owned by the Somali National Army (SNA), he also said Roble had been “tampering” with the investigation by pressuring the country’s defense minister, who is leading the probe.
The Prime Minister’s office responded on Twitter, saying the president’s actions were a “violation of the constitution and other laws.”
“The Prime Minister is carrying out his constitutionally mandated day-to-day duties as usual, and is fully committed to fulfilling his national responsibility to conduct an acceptable electoral process that culminates in a peaceful transition of power,” the premier’s office added.
Monday’s exchange marks the latest escalation in an ongoing spat over delayed elections in Somalia. In competing statements on Sunday, the President and Prime Minister accused each other of holding up the long-delayed parliamentary elections.
In a tweet on Monday, former Somali president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud condemned what he described as a “military coup” by the president.
“The Somali people are awake and watchful. We urge the protection of the democratic rule of law in the country, and call upon all to back the Prime Minister in his efforts to implement elections in the country,” Mohamud added.
The US Embassy in Somalia has strongly urged the country’s leaders to take “immediate steps to de-escalate tensions in Mogadishu” and to “refrain from provocative actions.”
Meanwhile Britain’s ambassador to Somalia, Kate Foster, also called for a de-escalation of tensions on Monday, adding that “violence is unacceptable.”
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