Somalia prime minister resists sacking

May 18, 2010 12:00 am

, MOGADISHU, May 18 – Somalia\’s Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke said Tuesday he was still in office a day after the president said he would replace him, worsening the embattled government\’s political woes.

President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed announced Monday he would appoint a new prime minister following a political row which led the parliament speaker to declare that the country had no government.

"I am legally the prime minister of Somalia and the statement by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed that called for the formation of a new government was regrettable," Sharmarke told reporters.

"According to the Transitional Federal Charter my government will operate until legally disbanded," he said.

On Sunday, parliament speaker Sheikh Adan Mohamed blamed the prime minister for the country\’s crisis, angering legislators who passed a vote of no confidence against him and appointed a temporary replacement.

"The former speaker of parliament said that my government doesn\’t exist. He acted against the law and he will be responsible for his misdeeds," Sharmarke said.

Lawmakers gathered Sunday in Mogadishu for the first time this year, but Al-Qaeda linked insurgents, which control vast swathes of the Horn of Africa country, took advantage of the government\’s disarray to launch fresh attacks.

The rebuilt parliament building, in use for the first time in 20 years, came under mortar attack from Islamist rebels, sparking clashes with government forces and African Union forces that left 11 civilians dead.

Somalia\’s unwieldy parliament and government have long been plagued by rivalries but the current crisis was one of the most serious since Sharif was elected in January 2009.

Since taking the helm of the internationally-backed transitional institutions, Sharif, a moderate Islamist cleric, has failed to build a broad national consensus and assert his authority over the country.


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