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ICG: International partners should be ready to name those acting as spoilers

Mogadishu (SD) – A statement by the International Crisis Group discussing the political situation in the country, focused at the deep rift between the President and the country’s prime minister.

“After bubbling for weeks, tensions between Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble and President Mohammed Abdullahi Mohamed “Farmajo” have burst into the open, nearly triggering another clash between rival branches of the federal forces, in scenes that echoed confrontations in Mogadishu several months ago. Following the unexplained murder of a national intelligence agent and Roble’s subsequent suspension of the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA) chief, both the prime minister and president moved to appoint a new agency leader.” the ICG Statement said.

The report also said that there was concerns over President Farmajo’s actions, including a possibility to ask Speaker Mursal to hold a confidence vote.

“The next moves from either side risk inflaming things further. Some are concerned that the president may ask his ally, Lower House Speaker Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman, to call for a vote on a motion to dismiss Roble. Any move to remove Roble would be highly contentious, given his central role in electoral preparations. Some argue that such a move would also be of dubious legality given that parliament’s mandate expired in December 2020. In addition, new lower house representatives have yet to be elected, even as some newly selected senators have taken their seats. Roble has meanwhile sought to shore up his position by asserting control of government finances, declaring that no funds can be withdrawn from Somalia’s central bank without his approval – a move bound to upset Farmajo’s side.” the ICG Statement said.

The International Crisis Group has called for immediate action to resolve the crisis in Villa Somalia, so as not to delay the scheduled elections in the country again.

“Both sides need to take a step back from the brink. Rather than constantly finding new issues over which to duel, they should instead focus on bringing the long-overdue elections to completion. President Farmajo and his allies should avoid any effort to oust the prime minister so as not to derail election preparations. Other political actors, including opposition members, despite their initial scepticism, have increasingly shown trust in Roble’s stewardship of the preparations. Getting rid of Roble would refresh their doubts and likely ruin the deal on which the elections are based. The president should stick to his prior commitment to respect in word and deed the prime minister’s authority in handling logistics and security going into the vote.” the ICG Statement said.

Finally, the Organisation has proposed restrictions on officials responsible for the conflict, in order to remove the pressure.

“Given the breakdown in ties between the president and prime minister and the failed mediations, further domestic talks are unlikely to produce lasting results. Rather, Somalia’s international partners should weigh in publicly and strongly to push for the above measures and be prepared to deploy measures of their own to discourage destabilising actions. International partners should be ready to name those acting as spoilers, threaten sanctions if they do not change tack and prepare targeted measures, potentially including travel restrictions or asset freezes, against those who persist with actions that undermine Somalia’s stability and the prospects of getting to a quick election. The U.S., UK and European Union in particular should lead on this matter, given their significant support for Somalia’s government. Much of Somalia’s political elite retain dual citizenship, and bilateral measures that restrict their travel or financial freedom, including after their time in office, impose a clear cost that can serve as an effective deterrent.” the ICG Statement said.

The ICG’s statement comes at a time when the rift between the president and the prime minister is widening and could possibly have an adverse effect on the country’s fragile security.

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