Somalia’ s interim president has issued a secret government memo reinstating ex-warlord Mohamed « Dheere » Omar Habeb as mayor of the capital, inside sources tell Garowe Online.
Abdullahi Yusuf, president of the Horn of Africa country’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), returned to Mogadishu last Tuesday, hours after the Cabinet voted to formally remove Mohamed Dheere from the mayor’s office.
Private discussions among the government’s top leaders « collapsed » on Thursday, with insiders saying that Prime Minister Nur « Adde » Hassan Hussein rejected recommendations detailed in a letter from Yusuf, which was also sent to the Ministry of Internal Affairs.
Sources privy to the letter’s contents confirmed to Garowe Online that the Somali president called on the Prime Minister to rescind Mohamed Dheere’s dismissal and requested that « regional elections » be held in Banadir to elect the next administration.
Mohamed Dheere was defiant after the Cabinet voted him out of power earlier this week, saying that the « final decision » remains with the President. [ Full story]
He told a Mogadishu-based radio station that « foreigners » and « Cabinet members » schemed to get rid of him, but « failed » in their efforts.
Officials at the Prime Minister’s office would not comment on this developing story, but Mogadishu’s embattled mayor has long enjoyed President Yusuf’s backing.
The Somali president, who is viewed as an outsider by Mogadishu clans, relies on the support of well-armed Mayor Mohamed Dheere with local matters and the two men have been political allies since the late 1990s.
However, Mogadishu’s beleaguered mayor does not enjoy the support of many people.
On Tuesday, crowds gathered at camps for internally displaced peoples (IDP) in the outskirts of southern Mogadishu and demonstrated in support of Mohamed Dheere’s sacking.
One of the demonstrators said: « I ran away from my home [in Mogadishu] and Mohamed Dheere is responsible. » He, like many others living at IDP camps south of the capital, lived in neighborhoods where the insurgents’ hit-and-run attacks were common.
Commentators argued that the celebration which took place at camps along the Mogadish-to-Afgoye road was orchestrated by clans who have felt marginalized and persecuted under Mohamed Dheere’s reign.
In 2007, the mayor declared that UN agencies were « feeding al Qaeda » by distributing food to IDP camps near Afgoye, where upwards of 250,000 civilians fled to since the anti-Ethiopia insurgency erupted in Mogadishu 19 months ago.
Cabinet sources said Prime Minister Nur Adde and his deputy, Information Minister Ahmed Abdisalam, « enjoy the support of donor countries » based in Nairobi, Kenya, in the decision to remove Mohamed Dheere.
Gen. Gabre, commander of Ethiopian forces in Somalia, has reportedly « withdrawn support » for Mohamed Dheere, who has been one of Addis Ababa’s closest allies since the fall of Mogadishu in December 2006.
Observers fear that a new rift has emerged among TFG leaders, especially after 32 MPs called for Prime Minister Nur Adde’s resignation.