Case of missing spy aggravates tensions among fractious Somali leadership

President and prime minister in row over disappearance of cybersecurity expert, reportedly killed by al-Shabaab

The Somali prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, has fired the head of the country’s intelligence unit over the disappearance of a female spy.

Roble accused the spy chief, Fahad Yasin Haji Dahir, a former close ally of the president, of mixing politics and security and ordered him to hand over power within three days. He said the handling of the case of the missing 24-year-old was “inappropriate”.

But in a row threatening to derail Somalia’s election process, president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmaajo, has issued a statement rejecting the prime minister’s decision, calling it “illegal and unconstitutional”. The situation is heightening an already tense period in Somali politics as Farmaajo instructed Fahad Yasin to remain in his role.

Conflict between the leaders has been brewing for weeks as the country is engaged in a crucial electoral process. Last week the National Intelligence and Security Agency (Nisa) reported that its agent, Ikran Tahlil Farah, missing since June, had been killed by al-Shabaab militia. The group has denied abducting her and Tahlil’s mother has publicly rejected the claim, accusing Nisa of being behind the disappearance and saying the last time she spoke to her daughter she said she had been told to report to the office. The cybersecurity expert was last seen leaving her Mogadishu home at 8pm on 26 June.

In a joint statement, the UN and the African Union Mission in Somalia called for a “credible” investigation into Tahlil’s disappearance and urged a de-escalation in political confrontation and the avoidance of “any actions that could lead to violence. We call on Somalia’s leaders to work together to advance the implementation of the 27 May Agreement toward the holding of elections.”

Opposition groups and some regional leaders have backed the prime minister and called on the president to respect the law; while observers warn of a return to April’s political stalemate when armed opposition forces took positions in the capital Mogadishu, protesting against presidential term extension.

The situation was resolved when the president withdrew from the extension and handed over the electoral process to the prime minister. Election of a body of national MPs has since begun and is due to be completed in November.

Conflict and jostling for power among the country’s leadership is not new in Somalia, and tensions remain high in the capital, with residents reporting troop movements along strategic junctions.

Contributor

Moulid Hujale

The GuardianTramp

Related Content

Article image
Kenya rejects UN court judgment giving Somalia control of resource-rich waters
ICJ ruling aggravates fractious relations between two countries and threatens to destabilise restive region

Peter Muiruri in Nairobi

14, Oct, 2021 @2:41 PM

Article image
Somali government calls for end of arms embargo to defeat al-Shabaab
Move would help army drive out Islamist group, says president as UN chief seeks extra $900m in aid for drought-hit country

Patrick Wintour Diplomatic editor

11, May, 2017 @6:08 PM

Article image
The year's top development stories: 2017 in review
As Donald Trump cut funding for family planning and people from east Africa to Yemen went hungry, peace finally gained a foothold in Colombia

Lucy Lamble

25, Dec, 2017 @11:00 AM

Article image
Somalia’s rival factions spread across Mogadishu as they jockey for power
Opposition leaders leave airport bolthole as they step up pressure over contested presidency of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed

Amanda Sperber in Mogadishu

21, Apr, 2021 @6:00 AM

Article image
Somalia stumbling along 'bumpy and difficult' path to peace and prosperity
As battle against al-Shabaab militants in Somalia continues, outgoing UN representative warns world against assuming it is ‘job done’ in the country

Clár Ní Chonghaile

25, Jan, 2016 @8:00 AM

Foreign fighters 'driving Somali violence'
UN fears potential al-Qaida safe haven after attempted coup and worsening chaos

Associated Press

15, May, 2009 @2:37 PM

Article image
African Union missing in action in conflicts from Mali to South Sudan | Martin Plaut

Weak leadership and rivalry between states have hampered African efforts to bring security to the conflict-hit continent, says Martin Plaut

Martin Plaut

06, Jan, 2014 @7:00 AM

Article image
Somalia famine fears prompt UN call for 'immediate and massive' reaction
Agencies and humanitarian groups voice fears that drought and rising prices could jeopardise the lives of more than 6 million people without swift action

Karen McVeigh

03, Feb, 2017 @11:26 AM

Article image
Somalia's limited polls overshadowed by clan rivalries and al-Shabaab
Hopes for a new government in August tempered by fears of bribery and violence, says Michael Keating, head of UN mission in Mogadishu

Tobias Simon in Mogadishu

22, Jun, 2016 @8:00 AM

Article image
UN 'running out of cash' and facing urgent cuts, warns chief
Letter sent to member states by António Guterres reveals $139m deficit in core budget

Peter Beaumont and agencies

27, Jul, 2018 @10:31 AM