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Soldiers block Somali parliament’s no confidence vote against speaker 

According to political analysts, the divisions within the country’s Lower House sparked by the impeachment motion against Mr. Mohamed Sheikh Osman point towards a prolonged deadlock that will continue to paralyse government’s decision-making and possibly fuel efforts to dissolve the parliament.

By John Thiongo, john@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – Dozens of soldiers loyal to Somalia’s embattled parliament speaker have poured into the nation’s parliament headquarters on Wednesday in what government officials said was an attempt to block a motion to impeach the speaker of the house.

According to political analysts, the divisions within the country’s Lower House sparked by the impeachment motion against Mr. Mohamed Sheikh Osman point towards a prolonged deadlock that will continue to paralyse government’s decision-making and possibly fuel efforts to dissolve the parliament.

The impeachment vote has failed to pass last week after rival lawmakers got into shouting matches over whether the vote should be conducted or scrapped for good.

But attempts to hold the vote once more has yet again descended into chaos on Wednesday after heavily armed soldiers escorting the parliament’s speaker have locked down the parliament’s headquarters, blocking legislators perceived to be pushing for the vote against him from entering the chamber.

The armed intervention by soldiers escorting the speaker has risked escalating the situation into a direct confrontation with the Somali and African Union troops that were guarding the heavily fortified parliament’s compound, thus prompting officials to close the session.

Somali parliament speaker Mohamed Sheikh Osman. Courtesy/Reuters

However, Mr. Jawari has maintained that his escorts were not involved in the sessions disruptions, accusing the president of pushing for his resignation instead of seeking solution to bring the crisis to an end.

Angered by the incident, Somalia’s army chief has announced the arrests of the soldiers involved in the intervention of the parliament’s proposed vote, warning against similar moves would be met with a military action.

“We showed restraint to settle the situation today, but I am announcing now that we shall take tough actions against anyone involved in such actions in future.” Gen. Abdiweli Jama told reporters on Wednesday evening.

Meanwhile, the worsening political crisis has fuelled concerns among Somalia’s foreign donors that have warned that the stalemate threatens to reverse the security and political gains made in the long chaotic horn of Africa nation in recent years.

MPs have filed the motion late last month, accusing the speaker of abuse of power and obstruction of constitutional reforms, an accusation dismissed by Mr. Osman who has since challenged the motion against him as “a political rather than legal decision”.

“They are asking me to resign, but I am not going to resign, I will not resign since I do not work for them,” he said in at a press conference last week.

The rise of power struggle in the legislature has seen ministers absconding duties as a result   with their deputies feeling the weight of the struggles that has paralyzed public services.

An African Union-led effort to end Somalia’s political crisis have ended in failure with the two sides accused each other of ruining the talks.

Last week, president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has held a crisis meeting with the speaker and his two deputies along with members of the Upper House in a bid to end the crisis that has gripped the nation. However, his attempts have failed to reach any breakthrough in ending the deadlock.

The African Union, United Nations and other international partners have since voiced their concerns, calling for calm citing that the recent political and security developments in Mogadishu risk disrupting political, economic, and security  as well as  ruining the reputation of the country.

In the meantime, as the impeachment vote had failed to get going, the lawmakers pushing for the impeachment motion against the speakers are making last ditch efforts to attain more signatories to oust him.

The speaker who has been suspended since the impeachment motion against him was tabled said that the parliamentary sitting slated for today was meant to discuss his conduct was illegal and unconstitutional.

On Tuesday, the first deputy speaker of the parliament Abdiweli Mudey has notified legislators through text messages about today’s impeachment vote. However, the 72-year-old speaker has alerted the legislators supporting him to attend a separate counter sitting discussing about Kenya’s security wall construction near the common border.

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