Somali President Mohamed Farmaajo and Prime Minister Hussein Roble have disagreed on which agency should be given the primary role of managing security in the ongoing elections in Mogadishu.
In a statement on Tuesday, Mr Roble had directed that the AU Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) be directly charged with managing security for MPs, following two attempts to disrupt the voting earlier in the day.
“In light of the severity of the security challenges impeding the completion of the elections, I have authorised ATMIS peacekeepers to immediately take over the security of the air force hangar as we complete the election of parliamentary leadership & prepare for presidential election,” Roble directed.
Roble’s government accuses the Somali Police Force chief Abdi Hassan Hijaar of having a hand in disrupting elections of the Speaker, by preventing the swearing in of a group of 16 MPs recently elected from Gedo region but whom President Farmaajo says were voted in illegally.
As of Wednesday, Internal Security Minister Abdullahi M Nor had “suspended” the police chief, accusing him of having “violated the federal constitution, persistently misused the authority, and today the Commissioner attempted to obstruct the parliamentary proceedings by using force to stop the planned sessions while endangering the representatives of the Federal Parliament.”
“The Police Commissioner, General Abdi Hassan Mohammed, is suspended from his position as the police chief effective April 27, 2022,” Mr Nor said.
But in Somalia’s chaotic electoral cycle, the power to suspend was also immediately questioned, with President Farmaajo indicating that ATMIS forces will not be allowed to guard the vote.
“ATMIS shall follow the electoral security procedures agreed upon by the National Consultative Forum,” he said.
Farmaajo said he wanted the election of the Speakers to be expedited but “warns against any actions that go against the September 17 Agreement and the accompanying procedures agreed upon by the Forum (a caucus of federal and member state leaders chaired by the Prime Minister to organise elections).”
In September 2020, the Forum, which also included federal state presidents of Jubbaland, Puntland, Hirshabelle, South West and Galmudug, agreed on indirect elections.
The polls were severely delayed but in May last year, leaders agreed to grant the police force the primary duty to guard elections, supported by the then African Union Mission in Somalia (Amisom). Amisom was replaced by ATMIS this year.
But as the voting has gone on, there have been complaints that the police force was taking sides.
Somalia needs to elect speakers of both houses before they can organise elections of the president.
On Tuesday, incumbent Speaker of the Senate Abdi Hashi defended his seat. But a session to swear in MPs from Gedo so they can take part in Wednesday’s election for the Lower House (House of the People) was disrupted.
Farmaajo says the MPs from Gedo will not be allowed to take oath of office until consensus is reached on how they were elected.