How Greed Blinded Somalia’s PM
The fall of Somalia's Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was marred by schemes and, most importantly, corruption.
Just one week after Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble was accused of land grabbing, President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo of Somalia stated Monday that the Prime Minister had been suspended. In a statement released by President Farmaajo, the Prime Minister was suspended due to severe allegations involving corruption.
President Farmaajo issued a statement the day before Prime Minister Roble's powers were suspended, claiming that the latter posed a severe threat to the electoral process and had interfered with the independent electoral commissions.
On December 20th, Commander of Somalia’s Naval Forces, General Abdihamid Mohamed Dirir, accused the Somali PM of theft and attempting to build properties on land which belonged to the Somali Navy. General Dirir stated emphatically that as the sworn official in charge of the Somali Navy and Coast Guard, he would not turn a blind eye to the looting and would not succumb to any threats. He went on to explain that encroaching on this land is unacceptable as long as he is the commander of the Navy, and that he will not stand by and watch.
Following the allegations, Abdullahi Mohamed Nur, the Minister of Internal Security, also known as "The 30 Year Old with 30 Million Dollars," issued an order prohibiting General Dirir from leaving Mogadishu. This appeared to many as a scare tactic for Dirir to retract his claims and clear Roble of any wrongdoing. Dirir did not retract any claims nor did he flee the capital city. Minister Nur is one of PM Roble’s strongest allies and was previously entangled in corruption allegations of his own.
In February 2013, while Deputy Minister, Nur obtained access to 344 hectares of oceanfront public land next to the airport complex for the development of a private luxury hotel. The Benadir Regional Administration urged Nur to stop building and showed papers proving his rights to the plot in response to a request from the Prime Minister on August 10, 2017. Nur refused and in response sought the assistance of members of the Somali National Army, including a top commander who is a close relative, to defend his claim to the land.
A panel consisting of senior military officers was formed in order to investigate the claims made by General Dirir. President Farmaajo has accused PM Roble of interfering with the probe and stated, “the Prime Minister has put pressure on the Minister of Defense which amounts to tampering with the investigation into the alleged encroachment on the SNA property”. Despite the ongoing investigation, Prime Minister Roble swapped Hassan Hussein Hajji, the Minister of Defense, with Abdulkadir Mohamed Nur, another one of his key allies and the Minister of Justice. This surprising decision was interpreted as an attempt to sabotage the ongoing inquiry into General Dirir's allegations.
Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble is no stranger to corruption allegations. Before he was ever a Prime Minister or involved with the Federal Government of Somalia, Roble spent years with the United Nations and worked for The International Labour Organization (ILO). Roble was a technical adviser at the ILO and was embroiled in a scandal in Hargeisa during his time there.
In an address given to the public earlier this year, Somaliland’s Minister of Information, Suleiman Yusuf Ali (Koore), stated that PM Roble is the most corrupt person that he has ever come across and they could no longer tolerate his stay in Somaliland. Three ministries were tasked to cooperate with Roble, according to Somaliland Minister of Interior Mohamed Kahin, and when Roble’s corruption and thievery escalated out of hand, Kahin himself issued a letter expelling Roble from Somaliland.
President Farmaajo has always made it one of his priorities to protect public land and make sure no businessman or politician claims it as their own. On the 18th of January 2018, in accordance with Article 43 of the Provisional Constitution, a presidential decree was issued by President Farmaajo concerning the protection of public lands. Three years later when it became apparent that public land was being looted, President Farmaajo issued another decree on the 27th of October “banning the misuse and misappropriation of public property during the elections period”. Despite knowing public lands are being protected and off-limits, especially during the elections period, Roble continued to construct properties on land which belonged to the navy.
Roble and his allies describing this move by the President as a coup attempt is ludicrous. It was in fact Roble who attempted a coup in September by seizing Somalia’s state media with NISA paramilitary forces, and attempting to replace the Director of the National Intelligence and Security Agency, Fahad Yasin, with one of his allies, Bashir Goobe. In an attempt to showcase his strength and politicize the army, Roble also declared that the Somali National Army (SNA) come under his command. Despite Roble’s outlandish claims, the Commander in Chief of Somalia is President Farmaajo, and he has repeatedly in the past ordered the Somali National Army to remain impartial and not pick sides. The armed forces cannot and will not be used for political purposes.
Roble was given all election-related responsibilities on May 1st and nearly eight months later, Somalia is yet to see presidential elections. In order to execute their jobs without influence and deliver elections, the electoral commissions must stay independent. Elections have been delayed for far too long and it is time for the September 17th Agreement to be implemented.