Sunday, October 24, 2010

Somalia TFG President's Rift Deepens With Assembly Speaker

Somali president’s rift with assembly speaker deepens


MOGADISHU--Somalia’s president said yesterday the decision to conduct a parliamentary vote to approve the new prime minister in secret rather than openly flouted the constitution, deepening a rift with the assembly’s speaker.

Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, Somalia’s second most powerful politician, yesterday postponed the vote on the appointment of former diplomat Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed for the third time in a week.

Somalia has been mired in violence and awash with weapons since 1991. Western security agencies warn the lawless nation is a fertile breeding ground for Islamist militants, while the chaos on the land has allowed piracy to flourish off its shores. A legal memo released by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s office said the 1960 constitution decreed the assembly should express confidence or no confidence in the prime minister in an open vote requiring a simple majority.

A shambolic parliamentary session last Wednesday saw lawmakers launch into shouting matches over how to conduct the vote. Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden determined it would be conducted in secret.

“The Somali president calls upon the speaker . . . to uphold the law and to not obstruct lawmakers from discharging their solemn constitutional duties, especially at these critical times when we need a government that can stand to address the mammoth tasks facing it,” the memo released yesterday said.

Both camps are busy trying to muster support among the legislators ahead of the eventual vote amid a widening divide between Ahmed and Aden, some analysts said, warning the rift risked paralysing government business.

Somalia’s beleaguered leader plumped for Mohamed, who was educated in the US, earlier this month after the previous premier quit, paying the price for failing to rein in a three-year Islamist insurgency.

Ahmed’s administration exerts little central control beyond the few pockets of the capital Mogadishu that government troops have secured against Islamist insurgents with the help of African Union peacekeepers.

Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab rebels yesterday paraded the body of a soldier they claimed to be a Ugandan from the AU’s AMISOM force. — Reuters.

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