Somalia's President says PM suspended as elections spat deepens

Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was suspended by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. PHOTO: REUTERS

MOGADISHU (AFP) - Somalia President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed announced on Monday (Dec 27) that he was suspending Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, a day after the two men sparred over long-delayed elections in the troubled Horn of Africa nation.

"The President decided to suspend Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and stop his powers since he was linked with corruption," the Office of the President said in a statement, accusing the Premier of interfering with an investigation into a land grabbing case.

Relations between the President, better known as Farmajo, and Mr Roble have long been frosty, with the latest development raising fresh fears for Somalia's stability as it struggles to hold elections.

On Sunday, Mr Roble accused the President of sabotaging the electoral process after Mr Mohamed withdrew the Prime Minister's mandate to organise the elections and called for the creation of a new committee to "correct" the shortcomings.

Mr Roble, who has not responded to Monday's suspension announcement, said Mr Mohamed did not want to hold "a credible election in this country".

In April, pro-government and opposition fighters opened fire in the streets of Mogadishu after Mr Mohamed extended his term without holding fresh elections.

The constitutional crisis was only defused when Mr Mohamed reversed the term extension and Mr Roble brokered a timetable to a vote.

But in the months since, a bitter rivalry between the men derailed the election again, straining ties with Western allies long impatient for the process to end peacefully.

Mr Mohamed and Mr Roble only agreed to bury the hatchet in October, and issued a unified call for the glacial election process to accelerate.

Elections for the Upper House have concluded in all states and voting for the Lower House began in early November.

Analysts say the election impasse has distracted from Somalia's larger problems, most notably the violent Al-Shabaab insurgency.

The Al-Qaeda allies were driven out of Mogadishu a decade ago but retain control of swathes of countryside and continue to stage deadly attacks in the capital and elsewhere.

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