Somali PM, president trade barbs amid political rivalry

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The spat comes at a critical time for the weak UN-backed government as presidential polls drawing closer. The government announced on Thursday that the election will take place on December 28.

By Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

MOGADISHU – Divisions at the top of Somalia’s government deepened last week, with the prime minister called for leadership change, in an apparent call to elect a new president in the upcoming presidential election in the horn of Africa nation.

His remarks have drawn an immediate attention from opposition leaders who are seeking to unseat Mr. Mohamud who is seeking a second term election.

Mr. Mohamud who is trying to defend his seat faces accusations of performing below par and shortcomings leveled against him by opposition leaders. However, he repeatedly denied the charges and labeled them as ‘deception’ by his opponents.

“This country cannot wait for longer than this to embrace a change – a leadership change is needed so much by our people.” Mr. Abdirashid said at a press conference in the port city of Kismayo last week.

Mr. Abdirashid had earlier declared his candidacy for the upcoming presidential election, a move opposed by the president.

Taking aim at each other further, the two leaders left the heated discussions to their communication advisers who were engaged in a spirited Twitter exchanges on political matters, accusing each other of  leading ‘blind horses’.

“It’s good that PM Omar should respect the discipline of the election and his duty as PM.” tweeted Shador Mohammed, a presidential aide.

His remarks followed incendiary comments from the prime minister, highlighting the widening divisions between the country’s top leadership.

“First and foremost you are not in a position t question the discipline of the PM. Thus you should refrain from your knee jerk reaction.” tweeted Harbi Kullane, an aide of the prime minister.

To make matters worse, Somali prime minister called for holding the election of MPs from his region of Puntland inside the African Union base, in what’s seen as an attempt to prevent a possible scenario in which MPs could be handpicked in favor of the current administration.

In the meantime, experts have predicted tough challenges against the president in view of the broad political support that has energized the opposition camps.

Political rivals accuse him of monopolizing power, while many believe he deliberately favors his own political party at the expense of others.

The spat comes at a critical time for the weak UN-backed government as presidential polls drawing closer. The government announced on Thursday that the election will take place on December 28.

The current government has been riven by infighting and has struggled to contain an escalating al-shabab insurgency across large parts of the country.

(Additional reporting by Abukar Abdi in Mogadishu, editing by John Thiongo)

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