Resignation of ministers shows growingrift in transitional gov't 2008-08-03 21:32:08   Print

    By Abdurrahman Warsameh

    MOGADISHU, Aug. 3 (Xinhua) -- Eleven ministers in the Somali transitional government have announced their resignation from the cabinet to protest Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein's sacking of Mayor of Mogadishu Mohamed Omar Habeeb without consulting them.

    Their resignation on Saturday showed a growing rift between President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed and the prime minister.

    Prime Minister Hussein fired Habeeb, who is also the governor of Banadir region, on Wednesday, citing the mayor's incompetence mismanagement, embezzlement, insubordination, and abuse of power.

    But Habeeb refused to leave office, saying he had the official endorsement of the president, who Habeeb said only has the final say in his sacking.

    Habeeb, also known as Mohamed Dheere, has been mayor and governor since his appointment by the former Somali Premier Ali Mohamed Gedi in April 2007.

    On Wednesday, Habeeb told the media that Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who is close ally of the mayor, was unhappy about his sacking.

    President Yusuf has not so far commented on the mayor's dismissal. But some reports has said the president was not pleased with it and there were also other reports saying he has reinstated the mayor.

    The ministers who rendered their resignation included two deputy prime ministers who also hold ministerial posts, eight ministers and one deputy minister.

    Reports here also have indicated that a rift has emerged between the president and the prime minister recently over a wide range of issues including the national reconciliation. It was also reported that the president was not pleased with the way the prime minister was conducting the reconciliation with the opposition.

    Announcing their resignation, the ministers, for their part, accused the prime minister of failing to uphold the National Federal Charter, saying he did not submit a budget to parliament for the past seven months.

    The ministers, who are mainly supporters of the Somali President, also alleged that the prime minister went against the National Federal Charter and failed to set up a budget for the government since his nomination late last year.

    The Prime Minister dismissed the claims by the ministers, saying that his decision to sack the mayor was the right one citing "the support expressed by the people and traditional elders in the capital".

    He said that the aim of the resignations of the ministers was to create political instability in the country and disrupt the implementation of the Djibouti agreement between the Somali government and the opposition in Djibouti early last June.

    "The aim of the resignations (of the ministers) is to create political instability in the country and disrupt the implementation of the Djibouti agreement between the Somali transitional government and the opposition in Djibouti," the Somali premier said in a press briefing in Mogadishu, the Somali capital, hours after the ministers announced their resignation.

    Hussein said that he did not officially receive any letters of resignation from the ministers but added that he will accept if he gets them.

    "It is the right of any minister to render their resignation ... they can rest assured that their posts will be filled," the Prime Minister added.

    The prime minister said that he was aware of moves to impeach him in the transitional parliament and called for him to resign.

    "I have no plans to resign but if the Parliament dissolves the government then I would accept, I will also resign if that would help the peace process," Hussein told reporters in Mogadishu.

    The Somali parliament is expected to discuss the crisis soon and reports say that a number of lawmakers are petitioning to impeach the second Premier of the Somali government.

    Hundreds of people took to the streets in Mogadishu and surrounding regions in support of the prime minister's move to sack the mayor.

    The Horn of Africa nation has been rocked by violence with local insurgents launching near-daily attacks on the transitional administration backed by Ethiopian troops. The country has not had a functioning government since 1991.

    A roadside bomb exploded early on Sunday in the north of the capital, killing at least 15 people and injured more than 40 others.

    Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah, the UN Special Representative for Somalia, has called on all Somalis to work together for peace and reconciliation.

    "The Somali people knew there would be challenges on the path to peace and they should not be discouraged," said Ould-Abdallah in a statement received in Nairobi.

    "As the end of the transition period is less than a year away, I call on the Somali people to remain united and solve their political problems," he said. 

Editor: An
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