Fresh twist in Somalia's power struggle as PM Roble orders release of money seized from UAE
In what is seen as a fresh twist of power struggle pitting president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble, PM Roble has promised to return money seized from UAE by the central government of Somalia led by President Farmajo in 2018 at Aden Abdulle International Airport following concerns of the motive of its shipment into the country.
Speaking when he received a consignment of medical and food aid from the UAE government on Friday, Roble apologized to the UAE government for the incident and pledged to return the money intercepted from the Abu Dhabi based government at the Airport.
Following the seizure, the diplomatic relations between UAE and Somali government has been frosty after announcement by the Federal government in 2018 that had cut its ties with the United Arab Emirates over the seizure of the cache of Money which the Mogadishu based frail government said was intended to cause instability in the country.
Highly placed sources in the Federal government of Somalia told the media that the money which was stashed in three suitcases containing $9.6 million have been put in storage in the Central bank of Somalia pending an investigation.
The UAE Ambassador to Mogadishu, Mohamed Ahmed Othman Al Hammadi, was at the Airport in 2018 to receive the money but an order from top Somali security officials halted it’s picking after tip- off that the bags contained large amount of money.
Al Hammadi who spoke to VOA Somali said money was not intended for the UAE embassy.
“The money is for the ministry of defence. It’s for the salary of the Somali soldiers,” said Al Hammadi .
He said the government knew in advance that the money was coming for the troops. The UAE has consistently provided training to Somali soldiers in Mogadishu, as well as about 1,000 maritime police in the regional State of Puntland region.
Somali security officials said the money shipped from the UAE government were not intended for Somali Army but had ulterior motive and raised eyebrows about the amount of money which they said was more than the the salary of the Army.
“I’m certain that they have been informed not to bring money. The onus is on us to respond,” the official said. He added that an investigation will determine whether the money was brought in to “destabilise” the country” security official told VOA.
Diplomatic relations between the two government has been strained after the Federal government of Somalia rejected pressure to end its ties with the Qatar government and played a neutral role in the squabble between the Saudi government and Qatar.
This comes amid political tiff between president Mohamed Abdullahi and Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble over management and handling of elections. president Farmajo had last week announced that he had suspended the powers of the PM over alleged failure of speeding up elections and corruption after the PM was accused of grabbing land belonging to the National Army in Liido Beach accusations Roble has distanced himself from and instead blamed President Farmajo of obstructing elections and attempted coup.
Efforts to bring them together by some members of the cabinet has hit a dead end after the Prime Minister took a hardline stand and reminded the ministers to perform their duties and stop from engaging in issues that does not concern them.
The international community has been calling on the two leaders to de- escalate the tension and dedicate themselves to accelerating the stalled electoral process which has missed its deadline for its third time.
The National Consultative Council meeting entered its fourth day on Thursday with no tangible outcome amid reports of collapse after the council differed on the take over of the country’s security by Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
The regional leaders of Galmudug Ahmed Qoorqoor, Hirshabelle’s Ali Gudlawe, his South West counterpart Abdiaziz Hassan Lafta-Garen and mayor of Mogadishu Omar Filish who are close allies of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo are said to have reportedly insisted that the president is the only person tasked by the constitution to handle security responsibilities and the issue of the country’s security hand over is non- issue.
Somali Prime Minister’s office said in a statement on Thursday that meeting will go on until a consensus is reached over some of the contentious issues which mired the meeting.