The president of Somaliland has forcibly closed the breakaway
republic's parliament after it began debating impeachment charges
against him, just a few days after elections were indefinitely
postponed. The speaker of Somaliland's Lower House of Parliament
accuses of the territory's leader of dictatorship.
forces controlled by Somaliland President Dahir Riyale stormed into the
parliament on Tuesday and removed the members. Since that time,
security forces have locked up the parliament building and refused
access to legislators.
Tensions flared up in the Lower House
of Parliament after the body's legal advisor ruled that an impeachment
motion from a member of parliament was constitutional and could be
debated. The ruling resulted in a physical scuffle allegedly
instigated by members loyal to the president.
After one member
of parliament, known for being a staunch ally of the president,
brandished a gun, police moved in and forcibly adjourned the meeting.
speaker of the Lower House of Parliament, Abdurrahman Abdillahi,
accused the president of purposefully orchestrating the brawl in order
to justify stopping the impeachment proceedings.
plan was just either the motion would stop, or the parliament building
would be confiscated by the security forces of the president. We have
requested the president to remove these units from the parliament
building, but there was no heeding," he said.
president's move is just the latest in a string of actions that critics
point to in accusing the Somaliland leader of abuse of power and
systematic disregard for the law of the land.
Earlier this week,
the election commission indefinitely postponed elections schedule for
later this month, citing the deteriorating political environment and
the president's decision to hold the poll without voter registration
lists. It was the third announced delay of the vote that was
originally supposed to take place 17 months ago.
A term extension granted to President Riyale is set to expire in October.
The speaker of the Lower House said the leader is turning the office of the presidency into a dictatorship.
think these are the characteristics of an immanent dictator. He does
not respect the constitution, he does not respect the laws, and that is
the normal characteristics of an immanent dictator," he said.
Somaliland MPs have announced they and their staff will attempt to
peacefully re-enter the building Saturday. The speaker said if this
action fails, they will just keep trying until the situation is
Watchdog groups fear the political crisis in
Somaliland is threatening the existence of its young democracy, rare in
a region marred with conflict.
The territory declared its
independence from the rest of Somalia in 1991 after the country's last
functioning central government toppled. But the rest of the world has
yet to recognize its statehood.