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SputnikNews.com: US State Department threatens Intervention in Somalia after Farmaajo fires PM Roble Ahead of Elections

Posted by: Berhane Habtemariam

Date: Thursday, 30 December 2021

US State Dept. Threatens Intervention in Somalia After Farmaajo Fires PM Roble Ahead of Elections

December 28, 2021
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  The US has issued a startling threat to Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmaajo, after he attempted to remove from office Prime Minister Mohamed Roble, who is overseeing the country’s lengthy elections process.

  “The US is prepared to act against those who obstruct Somalia’s path to peace,” the US State Department’s Bureau of African Affairs said on its Twitter account on Tuesday.
The statement called Roble’s attempted suspension “alarming” and added that “we support his efforts for rapid & credible elections. All parties must desist from escalatory actions & statements.”

  The bureau’s post quote-tweeted a message from the US embassy in Mogadishu the day prior calling for de-escalation of tensions by all parties and for the National Consultative Council to meet immediately and “accelerate and improve the electoral process and bring the elections to a rapid, credible conclusion.”
Somalia’s monthslong elections process was due to conclude on December 24, the final day for electors to cast their ballots for representatives to the House of the People, the country’s lower chamber of parliament. Once the new lawmakers take office, indirect selection of Farmaajo’s replacement can begin.

  Farmaajo faces a host of challengers in the election, including several former presidents and premiers, but Roble isn't one of them.

  Roble was assigned control over the process in May after an attempt by Farmaajo to extend his mandate by two years to settle disputes over the election process nearly spun the country into a new civil war. However, on Monday Farmaajo announced he was suspending Roble from office, claiming he was “linked with corruption.”

  Farmaajo accused Roble of interfering in a probe into accusations Roble had stolen a piece of coastal property that belonged to the Somali Army by shuffling the Justice and Defense ministry portfolios and ordering the suspension of the Somali Coast Guard commander, Gen. Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, the officer who brought the accusations against him.
In turn, Roble accused Farmaajo of seemingly deciding to “destroy government institutions” and ordered “all Somali national forces to work under the command of the office of the prime minister from today.”

  It was the second time this year that Farmaajo attempted to clip Roble’s wings, with the first coming in September after Roble visited Nairobi in August and later fired the country’s spy chief, which Farmaajo said he had no power to do. However, the two issued a joint statement in late October resolving the dispute.

  The Prime Minister of Somalia, Mohamed Hussein Roble, chairs a Security and Justice Committee meeting, involving top officials from the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States and international partners, in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 1 December 2020. - Sputnik International, 1920, 28.12.2021
The Prime Minister of Somalia, Mohamed Hussein Roble, chairs a Security and Justice Committee meeting, involving top officials from the Federal Government of Somalia, Federal Member States and international partners, in Mogadishu, Somalia, on 1 December 2020.
© Flickr / UNSOM Somalia
Farmaajo has long been a partner to the US in the region, working closely with US Africa Command (USAFRICOM) to fight al-Shabaab, a terrorist group aligned with al-Qaeda* and to advance US and UK oil interests in the region, which were put on hold for years by civil war.

  When Roble defied Farmaajo’s Senate-backed term extension in April and parts of the army splintered and sided with the premier, the US threatened “all available tools, including sanctions and visa restrictions” against “efforts to undermine peace and stability in Somalia.”

  To some observers, this back and forth by the US has been indicative of how Washington seeks to keep the country, and the larger Horn of Africa region, off balance.

  “1st, they pit one Somali politician against the other. 2nd, they issue statements urging the parties to de-escalate. 3rd, they give airtime to their minion(s). 4th, they malign the reputation of the country. 5th, they tighten their noose & show why they're needed in #Somalia,” tweeted Fadumo Qasim Dayib, a Somali politician who was the country’s first woman to seek the presidency in 2016.

  Farmaajo took office in 2017 after winning that election, the country’s first democratic vote since 1967, although widespread allegations of corruption nonetheless persisted. He had previously spent about six months as Somalia’s prime minister in 2010 and 2011. Despite his administration’s closeness with Washington, Farmaajo also bucked a major trend by signing a Joint Declaration on Comprehensive Cooperation in 2018 with Ethiopia and Eritrea, which had just agreed to a peace treaty that ended a 20-year-long conflict.

  As Sputnik has reported, Ethiopian Prime Minister Abiy Ahmed’s decision to bridge the gap with what the US considered a pariah state helped solidify Washington’s decision to back the Tigray People’s Liberation Front (TPLF) in its struggle against Abiy, who was undermining the group’s domineering position in Ethiopian politics. The TPLF had previously ruled Ethiopia for 27 years, serving as the US’ primary partner in the region, including invading Somalia in 2006, overthrowing the nascent Islamic Courts Union government and occupying the country for three years.

 Ironically, it was just last month that the US ambassador to Somalia, Donald Yamamoto, was spotted on a secretive Zoom call with the TPLF’s Berhane Gebre-Christos. The group, designated a terrorist organization by Abiy’s government, has rebelled against the Ethiopian government in a 13-month war that cost thousands of lives.

  The US has publicly maintained a neutral position on the conflict, calling on all parties to cease fighting, but in the call, Yamamoto and several other veteran US diplomats joined with European colleagues to urge the TPLF to seize the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa and replace democratically-elected Abiy with a “transition government.”

*al-Qaeda is a terrorist group outlawed in Russia and many other nations

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