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Somalia seeks to prosecute two lawmakers with subversion

Pressure is building up on the Somali government which maintains its neutral stand over the ongoing Gulf crisis, as the Saudi-led coalition that cut ties with Qatar continue to use the country’s proxy networks to exert further pressure on the central government in a bid to compel it to change its stand towards the crisis

By Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Somalia’s attorney general says he would bring criminal charges against two members of the country’s parliament accused of attempting to subvert the government, thereby violating the country’s provisional constitution.

Ahmed Ali Dahir says the cases against the two legislators Abdisabir Nur and Hassan Maalin Mohamud centers on receiving funds from foreign entities or countries to incite subversion, a serious crime that could carry long-term jail sentences.

Somali lawmaker Hassan Maalin Mohamud

However, Mr. Dahir has requested the parliament that the two MPs be stripped of their immunity to allow the process to move forward so that they can be prosecuted with treason by a constitutional court.

Somali lawmaker Abdisabir Nur

Mr. Nur has since denied the charges, terming them ‘baseless’.

Under the country’s constitution, MPs are granted partial immunity from prosecution thus requiring that one’s immunity be removed, usually by a superior court of justice or by the parliament itself to pave way for any possible prosecutions.

“These individuals are engaged in inciting subversion and creating public disturbances by using foreign funds,” Mr. Dahir said at a press conference in the Somali capital Sunday.

“We have the sufficient evidence to proceed with their criminal prosecutions.” He noted.

It remains unclear whether the parliament will approve the attorney general’s application.

In recent months, opposition politicians have faced public scrutiny amid allegations that they are under the clandestine influence of the UAE government which officials said continues to use them as a covert option to overthrow the current government in retaliation for its close relations with Turkey, a longtime UAE’s strategic rival.

UAE is currently locked in an escalating rivalry over Somalia’s economic interests with Turkey which maintains closer relations with the Somali government.

Earlier this year, UAE’s global ports operator, DP World had signed two separate 30-year contracts to run two major ports in the breakaway northern Somalia enclave of Somalilnd and the neighboring regional state of Puntland, part of a regional power struggle with Turkey which had won long-term contracts to run both the Mogadishu port and airport in Somalia.

However, Somalia unnerved by UAE’s growing political influence considers the move as a ‘blatant disrespect’ towards its sovereignty and judicial system, saying that UAE’s ‘interference’ threatens to destabilize the long-chaotic horn of Africa nation.

Meanwhile, pressure is also building up on the Somali government which maintains its neutral stand over the ongoing Gulf crisis, as the UAE, employing diplomatic and financial leverage have turned to the country’s regional states who have cut ties with Qatar, having received financial incentives to build up pressure on the government with the hope of forcing it to abandon its neutral stand despite its assertions of remaining neutral.

But, Somali government which continues to avoid shunning UAE in public has reportedly raised the matter with international partners, in a desperate attempt to evade potential political crisis in the country which has a history of constant political bickering by its political stakeholders.

Foreign interference in the country’s internal affairs are seen as a major problem standing in the way of Somalia’s state rebuilding efforts following after more than two decades of war. Foreign countries have subsequently used local politicians as bedrock to push their agendas at the expense of the troubled horn of Africa nation.

(Additional reporting by Alleastafrica reporter in Mogadishu, editing by Jeff Mwaura in Nairobi, Kenya)

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