9 December 2003

Somalia: Transitional National Government Faction Rejects New Appointments

Nairobi — Divisions are growing within Somalia's Transitional National Government (TNG) after one faction rejected the recent appointments of an assembly speaker and prime minister by TNG leader Abdiqassim Salad Hassan.

Hasan Abshir Farah and Abdullah Deerow Isaaq were dismissed as prime minister and speaker respectively in August. But they maintain that the TNG has no authority to issue such instructions as its mandate expired that month.

On Monday, Abdiqassim named Muhammad Abdi Yusuf as prime minister and Mustafa Gudow was appointed as speaker of the Transitional National Assembly (TNA).

In a joint press release, Abshir and Deerow said the appointments were contrary to the transitional charter or interim constitution and therefore "null and void".

They accused Abdiqassim of trying to hang on to power and reiterated that there had been no quorum in the TNA to sanction their dismissals. Abdiqassim "has no legal basis to dismiss or replace neither the speaker nor the prime minister", they said.

They added that until a government of national unity was formed, they continued to represent the TNG at the peace talks.

The TNG effectively split into two factions after Abdiqassim returned to the Somali capital, Mogadishu, unhappy over the adoption of a controversial transitional charter at the Nairobi peace conference in July to serve as a blueprint for future Somali institutions. Abshir was a signatory to the charter.

Somali political sources describe Muhammad Abdi Yusuf, a former deputy speaker, as "a trusted and a close ally" of Abdiqassim. Like Abshir, he is from the Darood clan from the Mudug region of central Somalia.

The new speaker, Mustafa Gudow, hails from Bay and Bakool and, like Deerow, is a Rahanweyn.

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