Somali prime minister toppled in no-confidence vote ahead of polls

Mogadishu on the map of Somalia
Mogadishu on the map of Somalia

Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was kicked out of his post in an unexpected vote of no confidence, plunging the embattled East African country into a constitutional crisis ahead of national elections.

But Khaire rejected the vote, with his office saying the process was not legitimate.

Parliamentary Speaker, Mohamed Mursal Sheikh Abdirahman, accused the ousted prime minister and his cabinet of failing to finalise a draft constitution, which could pave the way for fairer elections.

The unexpected decision to fire the prime minister comes after heated discussions, last week, over the model for upcoming national elections, with the central government in Mogadishu sparring with the federal states over the details.

The U.S. Embassy in Somalia expressed concern about the move, calling it an “irregular process”.

It said “it’s a setback for the reform agenda Somalia has pursued with the support of the U.S.’’

The embassy also threatened to “take measures against spoilers, who seek to undermine Somalia’s progress towards stability, peace, inclusive governance and prosperity’’.

“We do not want Somalia to go in the wrong direction,’’ it said in a statement.

The row centres around the reintroduction of universal suffrage, or a system of one person, one vote, after over 50 years, as opposed to the clan-based system used until now, in which lawmakers were voted in by about 14,000 clan delegates chosen by elders.

This system was widely criticised for corruption and the marginalisation of young people, women and minorities.

The next round of discussions to resolve the crisis – the third round – is due to take place in the central Somalian town of Dhusa-Mareb in mid-August.

The mandate for the current parliament expires in December, leaving little time to reach an agreement.

Presidential elections are also expected to take place in early 2021.

Under the Somali system, the prime minister has less power than the president.

The prime minister is named by the president and has the role of managing the day-to-day activities of the government’s executive branch.

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