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Somali Political Crisis Deepens

FILE - Somalia's Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed delivers his speech at the Parliament Building in Mogadishu, Dec. 21, 2013.

Somalia’s political crisis is growing, with 14 ministers asking the prime minister to resign due to his intense political rift with the president. The standoff between the two men has paralyzed the government for the last couple of months.

More than half of Somali Cabinet ministers have joined calls seeking the immediate resignation of Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed to end the political stalemate with the president.

At issue are disagreements over political appointments, which has also divided parliament.

In the past week, lawmakers failed twice to bring a no-confidence motion in the prime minister to a vote - in what turned into raucous sessions where debate had to be suspended.

Lawmakers dissent

MP Abdirahman Hosh Jibril said a small number of lawmakers should not be able to disrupt the work of parliament.

“It is unacceptable for 40 MPs to disrupt a session where more than 220 MPs are meeting,” said Jibril. "If the Speaker of Parliament is unable to handle the house, then we as MPs will seek his resignation."

Meanwhile, lawmakers from both camps have been meeting in Mogadishu hotels to seek ways to break the impasse.

MP Adbi Barre - who supports the prime minister - insisted the no-confidence motion is unconstitutional and his colleagues will block the vote at all costs.

Barre said the motion is being blocked because “it was politically motivated and never emanated from the floor of the house. Therefore it is unconstitutional.”

Familiar scenario

It has been less than a year since lawmakers ousted Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon in a similar manner.

Tension between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud and the current prime minister has sparked international concern that Somalia could slide back into political turmoil, slowing progress toward stabilizing the war-torn country.

The United Nations has led international efforts to create a stable central government in the country, after more than two decades of violence and chaos, and an insurgency by militant group al-Shabab.

The U.N. special envoy to Somalia Nicholas Kay offered to help Somali leaders reach "a mutually satisfactory compromise." He also expressed concern about reported vote-buying in the political standoff, and he warned that any action by any party that creates political turmoil would be reported to the United Nations Security Council.

President Mohamoud called on the international community to respect the sovereignty of Somalia, saying a Somali-led process is the only way to end the current political crisis.

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