Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has accused Djibouti of unlawfully detaining his national security adviser, a key player in his spiralling feud with Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
The office of Mohamed, who is popularly known as Farmaajo, alleged in a statement on Friday that Djibouti had unlawfully detained Fahad Yasin and other Somali officials at the country’s main international airport, preventing them from travelling to Somalia’s capital, Mogadishu.
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“We ask the Djiboutian government to ease … their trip, while it will be fully responsible for any threat to their personal safety. We are very much disappointed with the blunt intervention,” it added.
Djibouti’s foreign minister, however, denied the allegations. “There are fake news released in social media trying to create confusion and drag Djibouti into Somalia[‘s] internal challenges and crisis,” Mahmoud Ali Youssouf tweeted.
“We will continue to stand by our brothers and sisters in Somalia but never interfere in their internal affairs.”
There are fake news released in social media trying to create confusion and drag Djibouti into Somalia internal challenges and crisis . We will continue to stand by our brothers and sisters in Somalia but never interfere in their internal affairs .
— Mahmoud Ali youssouf (@ymahmoudali) September 17, 2021
He said a Turkish Airlines flight to Mogadishu did not take off from Djibouti due to what the company described as “technical problems”, adding that one of the pilots was not authorised to land in the Somali capital, which meant all passengers would have to return to Istanbul.
Youssouf, however, did not mention Yasin, who was due to attend a national security conference in Mogadishu on Saturday, and it was unclear whether he was on that flight.
Risk of ‘instability’
The cross-border row erupted hours after the leaders of Somalia’s five semi-autonomous states urged Farmaajo and Roble to resolve their differences through mediation.
“The current conflict … does not serve the public interest, leads to insecurity and political instability,” the leaders of Jubbaland, South West, Galmudug, Hirshabele and Puntland said in a statement.
The pair’s bitter power struggle escalated last week when Roble sacked Yasin, then Somalia’s spy chief, over his handling of a high-profile probe into the disappearance of a young intelligence agent.
Ikran Tahlil’s family has accused her employers at the National Intelligence and Security Agency of murdering her.
Farmaajo overruled the prime minister, appointing Yasin as his national security adviser, and on Thursday announced that he was withdrawing Roble’s powers, particularly the ability to hire and fire officials, until the election process was completed.
He accused Roble of violating the constitution and taking “reckless decisions which can pave the way for political and security instability”.
The prime minister, in turn, charged that Farmaajo was seeking to sabotage the government’s functioning. Roble further said he would not abide by the president’s order and accused him of twisting the constitutional provisions he cited to justify his interference with the powers of the prime minister’s office.
Farmaajo’s four-year mandate expired in February, but was extended by parliament in April, triggering deadly gun battles in Mogadishu, with some rivals viewing it as a flagrant power grab.
Roble cobbled together a new timetable for polls, but the process fell behind. Last week, he accused Farmaajo of trying to reclaim “election and security responsibilities” from him.
Elections in Somalia follow a complex indirect model, whereby state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, who, in turn, choose the president. The next phase is scheduled for between October 1 and November 25.