The dispute over the government escalated when President Mohamed suspended the executive powers of Prime Minister Roble.
Somalia’s regional leaders have called on the president and prime minister to end their damaging enmity, warning of the risk of political instability in the Horn of Africa nation.
The dispute escalated on Thursday when President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, popularly known as Farmaajo, suspended the executive powers of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, a move quickly rejected by the prime minister as “illegal.”
The two men have been at odds over high-security appointments in a dispute that threatens to jeopardize repeatedly delayed elections and distract from efforts to deal with a long-running rebellion.
On Friday, the leaders of the five semi-autonomous states of Somalia asked the protagonists to stop “exchanging statements”, resolve their differences through mediation and respect the provisional constitution.
“The presidents of the federal member states are concerned about the current conflict in Somali federal institutions that does not serve the public interest, leads to insecurity and political instability,” they said in a statement.
The leaders of Jubbaland, South West, Galmudug, Hirshabele and Puntland also urged electoral bodies to speed up the delayed elections.
The president withdraws the powers of the prime minister
Farmaajo had announced that he would withdraw Roble’s powers, in particular the ability to hire and fire officials, until the electoral process was completed.
He accused Roble, the man he named just a year ago, of violating the constitution and making “reckless decisions that can pave the way for political and security instability.”
Roble, in turn, attacked Farmaajo, dismissed the measure against him and accused the president of trying to sabotage the functioning of the government.
He also instructed the “Somali security forces not to mix with politics” as the dispute raises the specter of new violence breaking out in Mogadishu.
The bitter power struggle became public last week when Roble fired Somalia’s spy chief for his handling of a high-profile investigation into the disappearance of a young intelligence agent.
Farmaajo overruled the prime minister and appointed the abandoned intelligence official as his national security adviser.
Ikran Tahlil, a 25-year-old officer with the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), was abducted near her home in Mogadishu in June, and her employers concluded that she had been killed by al-Shabab fighters.
The fighters issued a denial, while Tahlil’s family accused NISA of murdering her.
Somalia has been struggling to hold elections for months.
Farmaajo’s four-year term expired in February but was extended by parliament in April, sparking deadly shootings in Mogadishu, seen by some rivals as a blatant takeover.
Roble improvised a new schedule for the elections, but the process has been delayed and on Thursday he accused Farmaajo of trying to thwart the voting process.
Elections in Somalia follow a complex indirect model, in which state legislatures and clan delegates elect legislators to the national parliament, who in turn elect the president.
The next phase is scheduled for October 1 to November 25 with elections for the lower house of parliament, but voting has not yet taken place in some states for the upper house as previously scheduled.