Elections in Somalia: Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Robley defies president’s decision to suspend his powers

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Somalia SomaliaSomalia’s president has suspended the prime minister’s job, after a row between the two men over long-delayed elections in the turbulent country. And the President, Muhammad Abdullah Muhammad, decided – according to the statement – to stop the Prime Minister, Muhammad Hussein Robley, from work and stop all his powers.

The statement said the president had dismissed the commander of the navy, Major General Abdel Hamid Mohamed Dreyer, while an investigation was underway. The president accused the prime minister of corruption, saying that he had obtained land fraudulently and had interfered in the investigation of a case.

Robley’s office said the president’s statement was disgraceful and that he would continue as prime minister. In a tweet after Farmajo’s statement, the Prime Minister’s Office said he was carrying out his daily duties ‘as usual’ and that he remained committed to an ‘acceptable electoral process ending with a peaceful transition of power’.

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Robley later said at a news conference that the president was trying to stage a coup ‘against the government, the constitution and the rules of the country.’ ‘I have ordered all armed forces to receive direct orders from the government …from the prime minister’s office,’ he said in a statement broadcast live on Somali National Television. His allies also accused the president of trying to carry out an ‘indirect coup’. They added that security forces tried but failed to prevent Robley from entering his office on Monday.

The US Embassy in Somalia called on Monday to de-escalate tensions. ‘We strongly urge Somalia’s leaders to take immediate steps to de-escalate tension in Mogadishu, refrain from provocation and avoid violence,’ the embassy said on Twitter. She urged leaders to ‘refrain from provocative actions and avoid violence.’ It comes a day after the president accused Robley of overstepping his mandate and interfering in the elections.

On Sunday, Robley, in turn, blamed the president for obstructing the process, accusing him of sabotaging the electoral process, after the president known as ‘Farmago’ withdrew the prime minister’s mandate to organize the elections and called for the formation of a new committee to ‘correct’ the deficiencies.

Robley said Farmajo did not want to have ‘credible elections in this country’. Relations between the president and Robley remain frosty, with the latest development raising new concerns about Somalia’s stability as the country struggles to hold elections. The long-delayed election has raised concerns about stability in the country . In April, pro-government and opposition fighters opened fire in the streets of Mogadishu after Farmajo extended his term without holding new elections.

The constitutional crisis was only defused after Farmajo called off the extension, and Robley brokered a timetable for the vote. But the bitter rivalry between the two men, in the months that followed, derailed the elections once again, straining relations with Western allies.

Farmajo and Robley agreed to bury their differences in October and issued a united call to expedite the frozen elections. Senate elections in all states have already concluded, and voting for the House of Representatives began in early November. The complex electoral process was supposed to end on December 24, but the deadline was missed.

On Sunday, the United States said it was ‘deeply concerned about continued delays and procedural irregularities that undermine the credibility of the electoral process.’ Somalia has not had an effective central government since the overthrow of former President Siad Barre in 1991.

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