By Peter Clottey
A move by Somalia’s Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein to replace some cabinet ministers who reportedly resigned in protest after the controversial yet powerful mayor of Mogadishu was sacked is generating intense debate. Hussein reportedly said the resignations would not affect government’s work, adding that the transitional government was working well despite the resignations, which he claims were designed to create instability in the country and to undermine a recently signed Djibouti peace process between the government and an Eritrea-based opposition faction.
Some political analysts say the controversy surrounding the sacking of Mogadishu mayor Mohamed Dheere is reportedly generating tension between Somali President Abdullahi Yussuf and Prime Minister Hussein, which could destabilize the transitional government. Somali journalist Haroun Maruf tells reporter Peter Clottey that the dismissal of the Mogadishu mayor has plunged the country into a political crisis.
“He (Prime Minister Nur Hassein) has replaced three ministers who resigned Saturday. Two of them spoke to the media and expressed their disappointment with the prime minister’s dismissal of the mayor of Mogadishu. He also appointed three other ministers for positions that were vacant. The prime minister is saying that he did not seek an official resignation from seven other ministries who were said to have resigned so, he is not ready to replace them for the time being,” Maruf pointed out.
He said the sacking of the Mogadishu mayor contributed significantly to the political crisis.
“The bottom line of this political crisis was the dismissal of the mayor of Mogadishu, who is a key ally of the president. Well, there are a number of key allies in the government in the military, in the police and in the security services that are close to the president. And it is sad to say the president perhaps felt that the prime minister would be going after these individuals, so he is trying to show that he does not want his loyal supporters within the transitional federal government, the police and the security to be released from their positions because they have fought with him. They have been very trusted allies of him for so long,” he said.
Maruf said the president has the final say on who gets fired from the transitional government.
“Of course the prime minister’s responsibility is to propose who he wants to be in his government, and who he wants to dismiss. But ultimately, the president would have to sign, and as long as the president does not approve the prime minister’s whishes, the game stays in favor of the president,” Maruf noted.
He said tension between the president and the prime keeps escalating.
“Well, we have tension now, political tension between the president and the prime minister. There is also a very strong movement lobbying in parliament some parliamentarians who are allied with the prime minister are talking of motion of impeachment of the president. Some other parliamentarians are campaigning for a vote of no confidence for the prime minister’s government in the parliament. So the tension is rising,” he said.
Maruf said neighboring Ethiopia can help resolve the ongoing political crisis in Somalia.
“The tension can be solved, I believe, if the president and the prime minister agree on the main point, which is the dismissal of the mayor of Mogadishu. And many observers are expecting Ethiopia, a key ally of the government both the prime minister and the president, to intervene and solve this crisis,” Maruf pointed out.