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Farmaajo suspends PM Roble on accusations of grabbing land

Somalia's President Mohamed Farmaajo (right) on Monday suspended his Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble (left) from his position, raising stakes in their worsening working relationship.

Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo on Monday suspended his Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble from his position, raising stakes in their worsening working relationship.

In a statement issued by Villa Somalia, the official residence of the President, Farmaajo stated that the suspension is on the grounds of corruption, following allegation of grabbing land that belonged to the Somali National Army for personal use near the popular Liddo 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 instructed that the rest of the cabinet members can continue with their routine duties.

“All state officials are instructed to refrain from abusing public properties and respect the laws of the country.

The President justified his harsh action referring to orders and guidelines the presidency had issued on 18th of January 2018 and 27 October 2021 with instructions strictly preventing from personal use of public property by government officials.

But this decision could easily be read politically given it is the second time in four months Roble’s powers have been clipped.

On Sunday, the prime minister and the president strongly differed on the manners of conducting the indirect elections chosen by Somalia’s National Consultative Council (NCC).

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In the statement released in the early hours of Sunday, Farmajo insisted that Roble failed to implement the terms of the Indirect Electoral Model agreed on 17 September 2020 and the Elections Guidelines agreed on 1st October 2020 by the National Consultative Council (NCC).

Up until end of April 2021, the NCC was chaired by President Farmaajo and included the presidents of the five Federal Member States (FMS) and Mayor of Mogadishu.

However, following armed confrontations in Mogadishu between loyalists of the opposition groups and pro-government troops in April this year as the side differed on a controversial parliamentary decision to realise a one-person, one-vote, Farmaajo delegated to Roble the authority to lead the electoral process and related security matters.

The change of role was endorsed by the House of the People (Lower House of the parliament) on 1st of May this year.

Since then, Farmaajo and Roble have disagreed on many aspects of the electoral processes 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 defense minister and the justice minister.

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Roble appointed Defense Minister Hassan Hussein Haji to lead the Ministry of Justice while the justice minister Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur alias Jama was appointed to lead the defense portfolio.

In his statement on Monday, Farmaajo accused Roble of making the portfolio changes in ministerial positions ‘to cover up’ the land-grabbing allegations against him.

On the other hand, Farmaajo ordered the Commander of the Somali National Army7 General Odowa Yusuf Rage to suspend from his duties the Commander of the Somali Coast Guards Unit General Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, the officer who accused PM Roble of land grabbing.

The president insisted the suspension of Gen. Dirir will remain valid until the corruption investigation into the prime minister’s alleged land grabbing is concluded.

Somalia’s international partners who support the Horn of Africa country’s state-building including the USA, UK and Norway have separately urged the leaders to accelerate the election processes.

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.


The East African

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