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Motion seeking Somali president’s impeachment flops amid quorum shortage

The development had ignited a smoldering political crisis for the fragile government at a delicate time that the impoverished horn of Africa nation is embroiled in a major diplomatic war with the United Arab Emirates, accused by Somalia of violating its sovereignty after a multi-million dollar port deal that the rich gulf state had signed with the breakaway Somaliland enclave in northern Somalia.

By Judy Maina, judy.maina@alleastafrica.com

NAIROBI – A motion seeking to impeach Somali president failed to take off Tuesday for lack of quorum to discuss it in the parliament, with over 14 lawmakers among 92 who appeared on the impeachment list denied they signed up to it.

Under Somalia’s provisional constitution, an impeachment against the president requires the signatures of at least 91 MPs and would need the backing of two third of the country’s 275 member parliament to succeed in a vote.

Parliament speaker Mohamed Mursal agreed to table the motion which Somali officials alleged was being pushed under the sponsorship of foreign countries including Saudi Arabia and United Arab Emirates. The two countries continue exerting pressure on Somalia in a bid to change its neutral position towards the Gulf crisis.

However, Somali leaders including the two deputies of the parliament’s speaker had challenged the legality of the controversial motion against president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, saying that it lacked merit and accused some MPs of trying to plunge the horn of Africa nation which has a history of constant political pickering back to political crisis.

The motion against Mr. Mohamed who took office early last year accuses him of violating the constitution “by engaging (in a) secret memorandum of understanding with foreign countries.”, allegations dismissed by the government as ‘unfounded’., asserting that it was “a political rather than legal decision”.

Western donors backing Somali government have called for political unity in Somalia which is recovering from decades of civil unrest, saying that the new political squabbling was hurting a fragile recovery.

Meanwhile, the impeachment bid has polarized the country, with many regard the attempt to oust the country’s leader as ‘political plot’,”

According to political analysts, the development had also ignited a smoldering political crisis for the fragile government at a delicate time that the impoverished horn of Africa nation is embroiled in a major diplomatic war with the United Arab Emirates, accused by Somalia of violating its sovereignty after a multi-million dollar port deal that the rich gulf state had signed with the breakaway Somaliland enclave in northern Somalia.

Last year, UAE’s global ports operator, DP World has signed a 30-year port concession for the management and development of a multi-purpose port project at Berbera in Somaliland.

Somalia’s government has repeatedly dismissed the legitimacy of the contract which will see the UAE firm investing $442 million to rebuild Berbera port in Somaliland as ‘null and void’.

Somalia considers Somaliland as parts of greater Somalia, a suggestion repeatedly dismissed by Somaliland which despite lacking an international recognition broke away from Somalia in 199 and maintains its status of being an independent state.

The move is seen by Somalia as a ‘blatant disrespect’ towards its sovereignty and judicial system by UAE’s ‘interference’ which they say threatens to destabilize the long-chaotic horn of Africa nation.

(Additional reporting and editing by Timothy Njuguna in Nairobi, Kenya)

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