Somalia PM, Hussein Roble Accuses President of ‘Obstructing’ High-Profile Probe

epa08991271 Somalia president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo speaks in parliament in Mogadishu, Somalia, 06 February 2021. An impasse continues between Somalia’s divided political leaders on how to proceed with elections. Days of negotiations between the central government and federal states have not resulted in a solution when the president’s mandate expires 08 February sparking fears of instability. EPA-EFE/SAID YUSUF WARSAME

Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble, Somalia’s Prime Minister on Wednesday accused the country’s president of “obstructing” a high-profile investigation into the fate of an intelligence agent whose disappearance sparked an outcry in the Horn of Africa nation.

Ikran Tahlil, a 25-year-old officer with the National Intelligence and Security Agency (NISA), was abducted near her Mogadishu home in June, and last week her employers concluded that she had been kidnapped and killed by Al-Shabaab jihadists.

The militants promptly and unusually issued a denial, while Tahlil’s family accused NISA of murdering her a view backed by many Somalis who have taken to social media to denounce the agency and demand justice.

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Roble sacked NISA’s director Fahad Yasin on Sunday after calling the agency’s report “not convincing”, but the official was reinstated the next day by President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, commonly known as Farmajo, who dismissed the sacking as “illegal and unconstitutional”.

The row intensified Wednesday after Farmajo promoted Yasin to the position of national security adviser and now threatens to set off a full-blown political crisis in an already unstable country.

Roble said Farmajo’s actions were harming the probe into Tahlil’s disappearance “in the same way justice and rule of law agencies have been previously barred from exercising full investigation”.

“That is a dangerous existential threat to the country’s governance system,” he said

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Roble, who was tasked with organising long-delayed polls to defuse protests after Farmajo controversially extended his mandate in April without holding a vote, also accused the president of trying to reclaim “the election and security responsibilities” from him.

A Swedish-trained civil engineer and political neophyte, Roble was appointed premier by Farmajo in September last year.

But the two men have frequently clashed in recent months, with the spat threatening to throw an already fragile electoral process into deeper peril.

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