And hours after his December 27 suspension of powers of Prime Minister Hussein Roble, the US and partners scrambled to prevent what they saw as a coup attempt to spoil the run for elections that have been held late, but were starting to pick up.
President Farmaajo had announced on December 25 he was seeking “the right course of elections” and accused his PM of incompetence and failing to meet the electoral calendar as agreed. The accusations were similar to those that saw Mr Roble’s predecessor Hassan Khaire impeached by the federal parliament last year.
This time, however, the US disagreed with Farmaajo’ s stance of pointing a finger of blame at Mr Roble. Molly Phee, the US Assistant Secretary of State for African Affairs first warned against interfering with the electoral plan, then told President Farmaajo he must support the PM’s leadership role in running elections.
“I spoke today with Somalia’s President Mohamed Farmaajo about the urgent need to stop escalatory rhetoric and actions,” Ms Phee said on December 29 after a phone call with the Somali President. “I stressed security forces should remain neutral. I urged him to support PM Mohamed Roble in convening the NCC [National Consultative Council] and completing credible elections quickly.”
The NCC is ideally headed by the prime minister, under a loose deal agreed on earlier in 2021 to have all presidential candidates keep away from the running of elections. President Farmaajo’ s decision to suspend powers of Mr Roble had been seen as an attempt to interfere with elections given the incumbent is also running to defend his seat.
In fact, there were legal questions on whether the President could suspend a PM endorsed by parliament, which is now not in session.
The US waring was endorsed by partners such as Norway and the UK and Washington said it was “prepared to act against those who obstruct Somalia’s path to peace.” On Thursday evening, the PM hosted the Council of Ministers in a meeting reportedly meant to assess loyalty of the senior government ministers as well as the electoral programme.
His spokesman Mohamed Moalimu said the council of ministers “condemns the failed coup attempt on December 27 against the headquarters of ministers and the office of the PM.”
He was referring to the suspension of the PM’s powers. President Farmaajo had announced other ministers should continue working as normal. On Thursday, Mr Roble’s council meeting approved a plan to create a standby joint security forces for Mogadishu, raising the security alarm in the wake of the wrangling.
The fiasco summed up a year-long chaos for Somalia, which were supposed to complete elections on February 8.