Mogadishu residents are celebrating the sacking of the Somali capital's controversial but powerful mayor Mohamed Dheere. Dheere was reportedly fired after he allegedly embezzled funds amid heightened insecurity in the capital. Some political observers believe Dheere's sacking exposes a possible rift at the top of the Somalia's embattled interim administration. Dheere, who is a former warlord, has been the city's mayor since early last year and is perceived to be a close ally of President Abdullahi Yusuf.
President Yusuf is expected soon to append his signature to Dheere's official letter of dismissal. Haroun Maruf is a Somali journalist monitoring the situation in the country. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Dheere was sacked after he clashed with the prime minister and some members of the interim government over control of the city's resources.
"You know, Mohammed Dheere is a controversial figure. He was a former warlord who was appointed as the mayor of Mogadishu in April last year. And a large number of people were displaced from the city at that time because of heavy fighting between Mohamed Dheere's militia and the government forces and the Ethiopian troops against insurgents. So, the large number of people who were displaced were today very pleased with the sacking of Mohamed Dheere and large numbers of people have taken to the streets in Mogadishu. But of course I think the reaction to the sacking of Mohamed Dheere was mixed, and some people were very disappointed, especially from the northern part of the city. Others were elated with the sacking," Maruf noted.
He said Dheere was sacked after clashing with the prime minister and other influential government officials.
"The mayor of Mogadishu is a very powerful character, and he made his position as a powerful politician. Mogadishu is the financial capital as well as the political capital, and Mohamed Dheere, the mayor of Mogadishu, wanted to control all these financial revenues, the taxes as well as the security of the city. Mogadishu is also the seat for the president and the prime minister, so they wanted to have their say on what is happening politically, security-wise, and financially, and that may have them on collision course with Mohamed Dheere, the mayor, which brought his sacking," he said.
Maruf said Dheere's sacking would not generate tension in the capital as many anticipate.
"I don't think he (Dheere) would urge his militia to take up arms against the government. So, far he said he will accept his sacking provided it was approved by the president, who is yet to sign the sacking memo. By the way, Mohamed Dheere is very close to the Ethiopian commander who is in Somalia, which means he (Dheere) is very unlikely to stage any fighting with the government over his sacking," Maruf pointed out.
He said President Yusuf is expected to sign the memo that would make Dheere's sacking official.
"It is very likely that the president would support the sacking, although the president is very close to the mayor. So it is also fair to say he will not disagree with the prime minister's decision to sack him (Dheere)," he said.
Maruf said the prime minister has set up a committee to find a new mayor for the capital.
"The prime minister has appointed a 13-member committee who will vet a new mayor for Mogadishu as well as a complete administrational structure for Mogadishu. Mogadishu is the bulk center of the conflict in Somalia. It is where every warlord, every troublemaker, every politician makes his political trade. So there are lots of sensitivities around this position, and that is why the prime minister has appointed a 13-member committee to draw a list to choose from a new mayor. But in the meantime, Mohamed Dheere's deputy has been appointed as a caretaker mayor," Maruf noted.