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Somali President Limits Prime Minister's Powers

FILE - Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed attends the London Somalia Conference at Lancaster House, May 11, 2017.

Somalia's president announced Thursday that he has suspended the hiring and firing powers of the prime minister during the Horn of Africa country's slow-moving election period.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, commonly known as Farmajo, made his announcement via a Facebook post on Villa Somalia, the official presidential account. Farmajo accused Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble of making rash decisions, which he said "could lead the country into [a] political and security crisis."

FILE - Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble
FILE - Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble

Roble did not respond immediately to Farmajo's statement. A source close to Roble told VOA's Somali Service that he would "soon" share his views with the Somali people.

The two leaders' relationship has grown increasingly strained over the case of missing intelligence officer Ikran Tahlil Farah, a young woman who disappeared June 26.

She was employed by the National Intelligence Agency, which said in early September that she had fallen into the hands of al-Shabab militants and was killed by the group. Al-Shabab has denied the accusation about Farah.

Roble assigned a military court to investigate the case and appointed a new intelligence agency director to replace Fahad Yassin. But Farmajo rejected Roble's appointment.

On Monday, Farmajo had announced a five-member commission, chaired by the attorney general, to investigate the spy case. But Roble objected to that decision, saying Somalia's constitution requires that the judicial branch remain independent of the executive branch.

Parliamentary elections are underway, with 35 of the 54 seats in the upper house already chosen. Elections for the 275-seat lower chamber are expected in coming weeks. Members of those two chambers elect the president, a process that could take months. Farmajo took office in February 2017; his current term formally ended February 8.