Abdi Farah Shirdon, prime minister of the Horn of Africa nation for just over a year, lost a confidence vote in parliament after he resisted President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s demand that he resign. Legislators said Mohamud and Shirdon had differed over the composition of a new Cabinet, prompting Monday’s no-confidence vote.
“The motion has passed,” said speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari, who added that 184 out of 249 lawmakers in parliament voted to sack Shirdon. “The current prime minister and his government will continue with their work until a new prime minister and a Cabinet is nominated,” Jawari said.
Ten people have served as Somali prime minister since 2007. Shirdon’s government took power in August 2012. It was Somalia’s first government to receive global recognition since the 1991 collapse of Siad Barre’s military dictatorship. Shirdon’s election prompted international optimism, and a restart in financial aid for a country long plagued by civil war.
Many in the international community had hailed the government as Somalia’s best chance for peace in a generation, replacing a transitional leadership mired in ineffectiveness and corruption. Despite the praise, fighting over who got which job appeared to have become the main priority in the badly fractured country struggling to cast off its image as a failed state.
‘That is unacceptable’
Shirdon, who left the parliament building before the vote, complained that the opposition had barred him from making a speech in his defense.
“They refused to let me talk … and that is unacceptable,” Shirdon told reporters minutes before the vote took place. “Even the accused has the right to defend himself.”
Last month, Somalia’s central bank governor, Yussur Abrar resigned, complaining that officials had pressured her to sign off on corrupt deals, claims the leadership denied. Her predecessor, Abdusalam Omer, resigned his post in September amid accusations by United Nations experts the bank had become a “slush fund” for political leaders with millions of dollars siphoned out, claims that were also dismissed by the government.
Without resolution, political divisions could have an impact on the government’s ability to focus on the security situation and efforts to battle al-Shabab militants. Though the government controls the capital, Mogadishu, much of Somalia remains in the hands of al-Shabab, which also strikes outside of the country – including, most recently, at the Westgate shopping mall in Nairobi.
Somalia has also become synonymous with piracy. Additionally, the country remains badly divided, with Somaliland in the north having declared full independence and Puntland in the northeast functioning as an autonomous state.
mkg/msh (AFP, Reuters, dpa, AP)