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The pulse for power shakes Somalia

Military sympathizers to Prime Minister Hussein Roble travel in their vans through the Hodan district in the capital, Mogadishu. / Reuters

The political struggle between the president and his prime minister is aggravated by the use that both make of the Army and multiplies the calls for dialogue to guarantee peace

The conflict between the Somali president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed ‘Farmajo’, and his prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, seriously threatens the stability of the tortured country of the Horn of Africa. The open confrontation between the two began eight days ago when the chief executive unexpectedly withdrew his mandate to organize the elections from the second and was accentuated two days later, by ordering the suspension of all his powers while an investigation is being carried out for alleged corrupt practices .

The initiative has encouraged a violent crossing of accusations on social media. In that duel, Roble has demanded the loyalty of the Armed Forces in an attempt to transfer his anger towards his superior to arms. At the beginning of this week, the presidency reacted by deploying troops in the government environment of Villa Somalia to prevent the prime minister from accessing his office. The maneuver was responded to by sending troops equipped with machine guns and grenade launchers to the vicinity of the ‘Farmajo’ residence.

It is not the first time that both resort to discrediting the opponent and the threat of war. The situation may repeat the previous crisis between the two and that resulted in armed clashes in the capital, Mogadishu, between their respective factions with a balance of thirteen dead. Then, the crisis was overcome with the intermediation of Washington, the main guarantor of the Somali Administration, and the negotiation of an agreement. The White House has already shown its concern about this new armed conflict between the two politicians, which traps a population that is among the ten poorest in the world in the middle.

The conflict reveals the situation of ‘impasse’ in which the African nation finds itself. The escalation of accusations between the two politicians, of known rivalry, refers to the tortuous process to lead this state, of precarious stability, towards its first democratic elections in more than half a century. ‘Farmajo’ reached the end of his legal mandate ten months ago without obtaining the approval of a roadmap to the polls and was accused of not seeking ‘credible’ elections and trying to perpetuate himself in power.

The president now is also not sparing in his accusations to the prime minister. Roble has been denounced for exceeding his prerogatives, seizing lands of the National Army and obstructing an investigation by the Ministry of Defense. In an attempt to discredit him, the president has called for a consultation with the Mogadishu local authority and regional governments to designate “a competent leader” capable of directing the electoral process.

The embassies of the United States and the United Kingdom have used Twitter to demand dialogue from the antagonists. Their deep disagreement not only endangers security in the government zone, but also facilitates incursions by Al-Shabaab, the Islamic militia that harasses the federal government through armed attacks and indiscriminate attacks. It so happens that only a few months ago Washington completed the withdrawal of the 800 soldiers who had displaced the country to train the elite forces of the Executive. In addition to international mediation, the council of elders, another traditional entity, also tries to intercede to reach some kind of pact that avoids a completely suicidal contest.

Anarchy in Bosaso

The crisis that the capital is experiencing is not the only one that the pro-government territory suffers. Anarchy has seized Bosaso, the main port of the autonomous state of Puntland, after the open war between two factions that have divided their security forces.

The Somali system of clans and sub-clans explains the deep disagreements that exist within the pro-Western stronghold. Ancestral structures resist change. Royal authority and resources are distributed according to this old organization and democratization constitutes a factor that threatens its status.

This shadow power controls both the central government, based in the capital, and the five federal states. Embezzlement and bribery, unpunished practices, allow the use of funds from international aid and remittances from Somalis residing in the diaspora, according to information from the Risk & Compliance portal. According to the latest Transparency International report, Somalia is the most corrupt country in the world.

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