A majority of Somalia’s 22-member federal cabinet has written to Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed giving him an ultimatum to resign or President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud will appoint a replacement.
Mohamud has instructed his cabinet to ignore a cabinet reshuffle made by Ahmed after the president said he was never consulted.
A parliamentary debate for a vote of no confidence in the prime minister was disrupted last week by Ahmed’s supporters, who refused to take orders and insisted on singing the national anthem.
Abdullahi Godah Barre, Somalia’s Minister of the Interior and Federal Affairs said the majority of the cabinet does not want the stalemate to further drag down the Somali government already beset by difficulties in governing.
“We, as his cabinet members, are trying to be realistic with our Prime Minister. If he lost the confidence of the president and also the parliament, then we don’t see a hope in this government to stand and function. The best interest of the public is for our Prime Minister to resign and that a new government, which has the confidence of the parliament and the president, be established,” he said.
Barre said the parliament tried to go the democratic route by trying to get a vote of no confidence, but a small number of the Prime Minister’s supporters disrupted the process.
“A small minority of about 20 is making noise and threatening people. That’s what the problem is. But, the government members, the ministers would like to see voting happen so that the parliament will give us confidence or no confidence, and then other people will have a chance,” Barre said.
He said that if Prime Minister Ahmed does not resign, Mohamud would have no other option but to appoint a new prime minister.
“What would happen is the president will appoint another prime minister and that prime minister will face the parliament and ask for a vote of confidence and, once the prime minister has the vote of confidence, then the prime minister will appoint ministers,” Barre said.
U.S. State Department spokesperson Jen Psaki said last week that a parliamentary vote of no confidence in the prime minister did not serve the interests of the Somali people.
The stalemate between Mohamud and Ahmed is taking place as an international conference on Somalia’s priorities gets underway Monday in the Danish capital, Copenhagen.
Barre said the rift between the prime minister and the president should have no impact on the Copenhagen conference.
“One year ago, Somalis sat down with donors in a format that’s called a New Deal, where the Somalis themselves would have a say in the support that the international community is giving to Somalia. So, I think this will not have any impact because the donors, as well as the government, have prepared themselves to share and compare notes to see how we can help the situation in Somalia," Barre said.