MOGADISHU (Reuters) - International envoys urged a rapid resolution to a move by Somali lawmakers to impeach President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud - the latest crisis to threaten the country’s stability as it struggles to rebound from two decades of chaos and war.
Somali lawmakers last week filed an impeachment motion against Mohamud, accusing him of abuse of office and “betraying the country”. Mohamud has said he is committed to holding elections on time before his term runs out in August 2016.
In a joint statement, the envoys of the United Nations, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia, the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (IGAD), the European Union, the United States and Britain expressed concern the impeachment effort would “impede progress on Somalia’s peace and state building goals.
“The submission of any such motion requires a high standard of transparency and integrity in the process and will consume extremely valuable time, not least in the absence of essential legal bodies,” the statement said.
Under Somalia’s constitution, at least 90 members of parliament have to sign a motion for it to be debated in parliament. To dismiss the president, two thirds of the 275 lawmakers would need to vote in favour of the motion.
The president’s office said in a statement last week that Mohamud was aware of the motion and that the government respected parliament’s role, but that lawmakers had more serious issues to debate ahead of the election.
Donors have complained Mohamud’s cash-strapped government is not doing enough to fight graft and say the theft of scarce government resources had frustrated efforts to build a functioning state.
A 2013 corruption scandal involving the repatriation of overseas Somali state assets frozen at the outset of civil war in 1991 has further strained his relationship with donors. Mohamud and those close to him have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing.
Al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab, which wants to topple the Western-backed government and impose its strict interpretation of Islam on Somalia, has been driven out of major strongholds by the African and Somali forces but continues to launch bomb and gun attacks against officials, politicians and others.
“We believe the Somali people should be given the opportunity to hold their elected representatives and government to account in 2016 through an inclusive and transparent electoral process,” the international bodies said.
Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Editing by Edith Honan and Dominic Evans