Somalia: Cracks in the TFG Widen

When we last checked in with Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and its infighting, a United Nations official was urging President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden to share power as a way out of their disagreement over when the next presidential elections should occur (the president wants, and has gotten, an arrangement where elections take place in August 2012, while Sheikh Aden preferred August 2011). The two rivals have indeed struck a deal, but the president’s victory on elections came at the price of the forced resignation of Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who only took office last fall. Reuters writes that Sheikh Aden “covets the top job.” AFP adds:

The president and the parliament speaker have two reasons for wanting to oust the prime minister. Abdullahi Mohamed is an ethnic Ogadeni and they are under pressure from the Puntland region to replace him with a ethnic Darod. Moreover he has gained a degree of popularity and this has riled them.

There’s one hitch, though: Mohamed is refusing to step down, and he possesses a significant constituency that backs him up. Protests have broken out in the streets of Mogadishu, and Mohamed and his supporters in parliament are questioning the legality of the “Kampala Accord” (it was signed in Uganda), saying legislators must ratify the agreement.

The ugly drama playing out in Mogadishu is bound to make international donors to the TFG even more uneasy than they already were. While the agreement between the president and the speaker may have brought temporary sighs of relief, the current crisis threatens to more deeply factionalize the government and further undermine the popular legitimacy of many key players, most of all the president. The New York Times‘ Jeffrey Gettleman writes that Mohamed’s refusal to quit makes the TFG’s future “even more uncertain.” I would add that the political mess makes the recent military gains seem less compelling – although the TFG and African Union soldiers have gained ground in Mogadishu, the TFG’s public dysfunction leaves one wondering whether it can truly rule what it has conquered.

13 thoughts on “Somalia: Cracks in the TFG Widen

  1. Ogaden are Darod (I wonder who fact-checks for these news agencies). I think they meant He isn’t Majerten, the dominant clan in Puntland who want either the presidency or the premiership of the TFG.

  2. also there is no such thing as an ‘ethnic Darod’ or ‘ethnic Ogadeni’. Somali is the ethnicity not the clans or sub-clans. It doesn’t make sense that Puntland would pull such weight after it publicly distanced itself from the TFG. Also it might be important to mention (with the clan dialogue and everything), that most of Mogadishu is Hawiye which is also the clan that the president belongs too, I believe.

  3. regardless of ethnicity , i think what Alex is saying, with the PM refusing to back down, this going to be a major fallout , only today the PM met with over 100 MPs, meaning the government probably wont function as well, unless the the president,the speaker and the AU (especially Uganda) eat a humble pie and back down.

  4. Perhaps the TFG will do what it always does, but I view Mohamed’s decision and the reaction to his potential resignation as a big opportunity. With nowhere to go except up, any display of governance could have wide effects during a chaotic 2012. Although the opposite could occur if Ahmed or Aden get bumped and refuse to comply, bring in Uganda, Ethiopia…

  5. I saw one reference, but not further verification, than some Ahlu-Sunnah Wal-Jamaacah leaders have also criticized the “Kampala Accord,” though the reasons, if true, were not specified and the report pre-dates the dispute over the TFG PM.

      • A study that should but has yet to be done is on ASWJ: Who is in it, is it really a single group as it is often portrayed, how “moderate” is it, since it’s usually described as such, etc. In a couple of conversations with colleagues who study Somalia, they’ve pointed out that ASWJ is more militant, less “moderate,” and less unified than it portrays itself to the U.S. and European countries. One colleague described meeting ASWJ people in Eastleigh who were “more like gangsters” than “moderate Sufis.”

      • If I understand correctly (which might not be the case) ASWJ isn’t motivated so strongly by religious fervor. In any case ‘moderate’ usually means ‘people we (the U.S) can convince (pay) to be nice to us’. Not that there’s anything wrong with that.

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