Somalia's President Mohamed Farmaajo has suspended his Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble from his position, raising the stakes in their worsening working relationship.
In a statement issued by Villa Somalia, the official residence of the President, Farmaajo cited corruption for the move. It follows allegations of land grabbing linked to a parcel belonging to the Somali army near the popular Lido beach in Mogadishu.
“This decision to adjourn the powers of the Prime Minister is on the basis of an enquiry by Somali National Army in connection with an allegation regarding land grabbed by PM Roble, which belonged to the force,” read the statement.
Farmaajo justified his action by citing guidelines issued by the presidency on January 18, 2018 and October 27, 2021 with instructions strictly preventing personal use of public property by government officials.
“All state officials are instructed to refrain from abusing public properties and respect the laws of the country."
Differences over elections
But many are viewing the decision as a political play, given it is the second time in four months that Roble's powers have been clipped.
On Sunday, just hours before his suspension, Roble and Farmaajo strongly differed on the manner of conducting the indirect elections chosen by Somalia’s National Consultative Council (NCC).
In the statement released in the early hours of Sunday, Farmajo insisted that PM Roble failed to implement the terms of the Indirect Electoral Model agreed on September 17, 2020 and the Elections Guidelines agreed on October 1, 2020 by the National Consultative Council (NCC).
This is the second time that the President is suspending his PM, further widening their rift after they committed to mend fences just a few months before.
In August, Farmaajo had cut Roble's powers, suspending him from running elections and conducting business with foreign entities until after elections. It followed Roble's trip to Nairobi which helped improve ties with Somalia's western neighbour.
Farmaajo and Roble have disagreed on many aspects of the electoral process that caused the president to issue a statement in September this year, suspending the premier from duties, accusing him of incompetence, which Roble rejected.
On Sunday, PM Roble made a limited cabinet reshuffle, exchanging the portfolios of the Defence minister and the Justice minister.
Roble appointed Defence Minister Hassan Hussein Haji to lead the Ministry of Justice while Justice minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur alias Jama was appointed to lead the Defence portfolio.
But in his statement on Monday, Farmaajo accused Roble of making the ministerial changes ‘to cover up’ the land-grabbing allegations against him.
Farmaajo also ordered the Commander of the Somali National Army, General Odowa Yusuf Rage, to suspend the Commander of the Somali Coast Guards Unit, General Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, the officer who accused PM Roble of land grabbing.
He said Dirir's suspension will remain valid until the corruption investigation is concluded.