Garowe Online (Garowe)

15 February 2013

Somalia: President and PM 'In Disagreement Over Key National Issues'

Mogadishu, Somalia — Government sources in Mogadishu have said that Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon have had a fall out after President Hassan returned from his foreign trips, Garowe Online reports.

The inside source says that the leaders had heated arguments on a number of issues that have not yet been confirmed yet.

However, the source says some of the related to a number of sensitive issues that the government is handling.

Interference of duties

"As you may be aware, it is well known that the President [Hassan Sheikh Mohamud] has been interfering in the work of the Prime Minister's office since the selection of Cabinet ministers in October [2012], which he had a very strong influence in," said the source.

The small Cabinet of 10 ministers was appointed in October along with 25 deputy ministers and state ministers. The previous government had a Cabinet consisting of 18 ministers based on 4.5 clan power sharing system, which ensured clan representation.

However, President Hassan's administration took a new approach and many ministries were joined together.

President Hassan's government stated that the move was done to improve effectiveness of the ministries. However, the confidential source told Garowe Online that some ministers have complained about "continuous interference by the president's inner circle".

"Some ministers have even threatened to resign as they feel that they have no real authority of their ministry," said the source, adding: "That the issue of interference from the presidential palace has been brought to the table many times."

Although the source could not name which ministers threatened to resign, the source did note that the rift between President Hassan and Prime Minister Shirdon is widening.

Aid and development

Back from recent trips to the United States, United Kingdom, Belgium and the Middle East, the international community reassured President Hassan that Somalia would receive a new focused aid and development approach.

The EU has promised to host a Somali conference in fall, which will work out a "new deal" for Somalia. The Middle East has also suggested a more effective aid and development initiative in Somalia.

The source suggests that the unprecedented pledge by the international community and how it would be managed could also be the cause of the rift.

"The two had a fall out after President Hassan returned from his trips abroad and some are saying that the funding from the international community especially Qatar and how it would be managed is part of what caused the rift," said the source.

According to Abdirahman Abdi a Somali government consultant, the Middle East approach to financial assistance with regards to Africa is not as accountable as international standards.

"There's less paperwork with Middle Eastern funding compared to funding from UN agencies or Western powers' donations," said Mr. Abdi.

Since the creation of Somalia's first permanent government in 22 years, the Somali Federal Government has seen an increase in aid pledges. Previous governments were reportedly riddled with corruption and the new democratically elected government has promised to clear the blemish of previous Somali governments.

Federated States

The rift comes at a time when regions in Somalia are preparing to form federated states with the international support. Regions, such as Lower Jubba, Middle Jubba and Gedo regions, are aspiring to form 'Jubaland State' and a state convention is expected to open later this month in Kismayo

Somali political groups in Jubaland regions and the Intergovernmental Authority have backed the process on Development (IGAD), despite complaints from officials in Mogadishu about the IGAD involvement. In 2002-2004, IGAD hosted the Somali peace conference in Kenya that gave birth to the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) of Somalia, which preceded the current Somali Federal Government.

Some political groups have alleged that the Federal Government is against the formation of Jubaland; however Prime Minister Shirdon has gone on the record supporting the Jubaland state process. During visits to Minnesota, USA, and London, UK, Somali protestors demanded that President Hassan stop his interference of Jubaland state formation.

The confidential source says that he believes that President Hassan and Prime Minister Shirdon disagree over Jubaland, as the Prime Minister has "refused" to speak negatively of the local process for Jubaland state formation.

In Bay region, a new governor was nominated by Abdifatah Ibrahim Geesey, the former governor, has rejected the new nomination and is currently in Baidoa commanding hundreds of troops. The new governor is nowhere to be seen and Mogadishu's influence in Baidoa, only 250km away, seems nonexistent, the source added.

Somali Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari, who hails from Bay region, is currently visiting Ethiopia and it is believed that issues on the table include support for Mr. Geesey as governor of Bay region. Baidoa is hosting a conference to establish a new state for Bay and Bakool regions.

The move to appoint a new governor at this critical time has been interpreted by some local residents in Bay and Bakool regions as a bid to influence the outcome of a state formation process for the area.

Somali political analysts tell Garowe Online that the fall out between the two Somali leaders could impact the pledged support by the international community towards helping rebuild Somalia.

TFG leaders were notorious for political infighting, with Presidents attempting to unseat Prime Ministers via a parliamentary vote of confidence on numerous occasions.

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