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Somali PM loses confidence vote

02 December 2013, 21:01

Mogadishu - Somali lawmakers voted to oust the prime minister Monday amid furious power struggles among top leaders that could undermine efforts to rebuild the war-torn nation and tackle Islamist insurgents.

Abdi Farah Shirdon, prime minister of the Horn of Africa nation for just over a year, lost the confidence vote in parliament after he resisted President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's demand that he resign.

"The motion has passed," said speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari, noting that 184 out of 249 lawmakers in parliament voted to sack Shirdon.

"The current prime minster and his government will continue with their work until a new prime minster and a cabinet is nominated," Jawari added.

The precise cause of the power struggle is unclear, but politicians have pointed to wrangling over alleged corruption, personal loyalties as well as Somalia's complex clan politics, where each community expects to be represented in the corridors of power.

Shirdon, who left the parliament building before the vote, spoke out angrily saying he had been barred from making a speech in his defence.

"They refused to let me talk... and that is unacceptable, even the accused has the right to defend himself," Shirdon told reporters minutes before the vote took place.

The government, which took power in August 2012, was the first to be given global recognition since the collapse of the hard line regime in 1991, and billions in foreign aid has since poured in.

It was hailed as offering the best chance for peace in a generation, replacing a transitional leadership mired in rampant corruption.

But fighting over who gets what job appears to have become the number-one priority in a badly fractured country desperately in need of a strong central government and struggling to cast of its image as a failed state.

The political squabbling follows the resignation last month of central bank governor Yussur Abrar -- the second to step down during this government - complaining she had been pressurised to sign off on corrupt deals, claims the government denied.

Her predecessor, Abdusalam Omer, resigned his post in September amid accusations by United Nations experts the bank had become a "slush fund" for political leaders with millions of dollars siphoned out, claims that were dismissed by the government.



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