Somali president suspends prime minister, who accuses coup attempt

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The Somali president announced this Monday (27) that he had suspended the country’s prime minister on suspicion of corruption, in an escalation in the power struggle between the two leaders, which was called an “attempted coup” by the prime minister and generated fears of further instability in the country.

The president, Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, accuses Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble of appropriating land belonging to the Somali army and interfering in an investigation by the Ministry of Defense.

“I want to tell Somalis that the steps taken by former president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo were an open attempt at a coup against the government and the national constitution,” Roble declared on the Facebook account of the state news agency Sonna.

Roble said he ordered security forces to take orders directly from him.

Government spokesman Mohamed Ibrahim Moalimuu said the president’s action was unconstitutional and that Roble would continue in his duties.

The US embassy called for a reduction in the escalation of both sides in the African country.

“We strongly urge Somali leaders to take immediate steps to ease tensions in Mogadishu, avoid provocative actions and avoid violence,” the newspaper said on Twitter.

It is the last round in a long standing dispute between the two leaders. In April, pro-government and opposition fighters were shot dead in the streets of the capital, Mogadishu, after Farmajo extended his term from four to six years without holding elections.

The constitutional crisis was allayed when the president reversed his decision and Roble negotiated an electoral calendar.

In the following months, however, rivalry between the two politicians again hampered the vote and created tensions with Western allies.

On Sunday, Farmajo and Roble accused each other of delaying parliamentary elections in a country torn apart by attacks by radical Islamic militants and clan rivalries. Roble accused the president of sabotaging the electoral process after he decided to take the task of organizing the elections away from the prime minister and called for the creation of a new commission to “correct” the problems.

Roble said Farmajo does not want to hold “a credible election in the country”.

This Monday (27), in addition to suspending the prime minister’s powers, the president also announced that he had removed the commander of the Navy forces, General Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, from his post, while another investigation into corruption is being carried out.

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