Ahead of elections in Somalia, presidential candidates on Friday condemned a move by the president on Thursday to suspend the prime minister’s powers, further deepening a political crisis in the country.
In a joint statement, the presidential candidates said the move by Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to clip the prime minister's powers is a blatant violation of the Somali constitution.
The candidates said the president “trampled on the country’s constitution and lied about its provisions” when he suspended the powers of the prime minister.
According to the presidency, there were "no working relations between the president and the prime minister."
The presidency said in a statement on Thursday that since the prime minister of Somalia has violated the provisional constitution, the powers of the prime minister and all correspondence related to dismissals or appointments have been frozen until the completion of the country’s elections.
Premier rejects suspension
In response to the presidency on Friday, Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble said the letter issued by the president clearly violates the constitution and falsely misinterprets articles 87 and 90 of the constitution as they do not mention any interference of the president in constitutional powers of the prime minister and his government.”
Roble added that the president violated Article 103 of the provisional constitution that gives the incumbent prime minister and his Cabinet the executive power to continue and carry out routine duties until a new prime minister is sworn in.
Calling the president’s order null and void, Roble said the federal government of Somalia has assured the Somali people and the international community that it is focusing on completing the elections, maintaining security, and safeguarding the governance system so that the country’s leadership is peacefully transferred.
Presidential elections in the Horn of African country are scheduled to be held after the parliamentary elections slated for Nov. 25.
The two leaders locked horns over hiring and firing in the country’s security agencies, triggering political instability in the country as it struggles to hold long-delayed elections and fight rising extremism.
The power struggle became public last week when Roble sacked Somalia's intelligence chief over his handling of a high-profile probe into the disappearance of a young political worker.
The president overruled the prime minister, appointing the dumped intelligence official as his national security adviser.