MOGADISHU (AFP) – Power struggles between Somalia’s president and prime minister are risking the war-torn country’s fragile gains, European Union and United Nations envoys warned Monday in a call for “responsible political leadership.”
EU special envoy Alexander Rondos said there was “deep concern” at the “public differences” between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his prime minister, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed.
“This is already having an impact on the functioning of the federal institutions and Somalia’s state and peace building goals,” Rondos said in a statement Monday.
“Somalia needs peace. It needs responsible political leadership.”
Last month the prime minister reshuffled several cabinet members, among them close allies of the president, which Mohamud called “outrageous.”
UN envoy Nicholas Kay said the tension “puts at risk” political goals including a referendum on a new constitution next year, ahead of elections in 2016.
He also said he was worried about reports that lawmakers were being bribed with cash to vote.
“I am concerned about allegations of some MPs being asked to exchange votes for cash in the context of a potential ‘no confidence’ motion,” Kay said. “Somalia and Somalis deserve better.”
Mohamud on Monday hit back at criticism by donors, and called for the “respect of Somalia’s sovereign right”, in a statement.
“While I appreciate the concerns of the international community, the best way to support Somali leaders and institutions is to respect and allow them to resolve their differences through legitimate means and within the existing and maturing institution,” he said.
The Somali government, which took power in August 2012, was the first to be given global recognition since the collapse of Somalia’s hardline regime in 1991,
Billions in foreign aid has been poured in, including funding the UN-mandated 22,000-strong African Union force, which has done much of the heavy fighting against Somalia’s Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels.
It was hailed as offering the best chance for peace in a generation, replacing a transitional leadership mired in ineffectiveness and rampant corruption.
But political wrangles and reports of corruption have raised concern the government, like the last administration, is blighted by infighting and failing to unite in the face of the threat by the Shebab.
UN chief Ban Ki-moon warned last week on visit to Mogadishu that Somalia risks returning to famine without urgent aid – three years since more than 250,000 people died of hunger – with three million people in need of support.