, MOGADISHU, Dec 14 – A rowdy parliament session in war-torn Somalia degenerated into fistfights and kicks on Wednesday after disagreements over the sacking of the speaker, lawmakers said.
Supporters of speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan, who was dismissed on Tuesday by 280 MPs, loudly protested the election of his replacement, arguing that Adan’s impeachment did not follow procedure.
“Dozens of lawmakers loyal to the speaker rejected discussions to elect a replacement during today’s session. They started shouting, causing a mess that triggered fighting,” said legislator Mohamed Dhere.
“There was punching and kicking that left some lawmakers injured,” he added.
The MPs who sacked him were upset with Adan for not convening the 550-seat parliament for two months. His reasons for doing so remain unclear.
Fed up with the inaction, the lawmakers held a session on Tuesday without him and voted 280 to 3 to oust Adan from the speaker’s chair that he has held since last year after a political dispute forced his predecessor from office.
Adan, who has difficult ties with President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, also held the speaker’s chair between 2004 and 2007.
His sacking remains controversial however because the Tuesday session during which he was fired was not convened by him or by one of his deputies authorised to convene the body.
“The move by the lawmakers who opened the session yesterday to impeach the speaker was a clear violation of the national charter because nobody has the right to open the parliament without the presence of the chairmen,” first deputy speaker Abdiweli Ibrahim Mudey told reporters.
“They opened the gates for fresh political row. We will be holding those responsible accountable when we re-open parliament,” he added, without giving a date.
Lawmaker Ibrahim Moalim said: “This was really disgusting. The pro-speaker legislators started the fight in order to disrupt the process to elect a new speaker. I’m telling you that this will not hinder our intention to bring changes to the parliament.”
Somalia’s transitional leadership has been plagued by wrangles that have undermined efforts to stabilise the war-wracked Horn of Africa country, and the latest parliament row is likely to cause more impediments.
The writ of the Somali transitional government will expire on August 2012 when elections are to be held under a new charter in accordance with a UN-backed deal signed by leaders in September.