The United States has said an attempt to suspend Somalia’s Prime Minister Mohammed Hussein Roble was alarming and that it supported his efforts for quick and credible elections.
The U.S. State Department African Affairs Bureau said in a tweet late on Monday that it was also prepared to act against those obstructing Somalia’s path to peace.
On Monday, President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said he had suspended Roble’s powers for suspected corruption, a move the prime minister described as a coup attempt, escalating a power struggle between the two leaders.
“The attempted suspension of … Roble is alarming and we support his efforts for rapid and credible elections,” the bureau said. “All parties must desist from escalatory actions and statements.”
President Mohamed accused Roble of stealing land owned by the Somali National Army (SNA) and of interfering with a defence ministry investigation.
In response, Roble said the action was unconstitutional and aimed at derailing an ongoing election for lawmakers. He also ordered the security forces to start taking orders from him, instead of the president.
On Sunday, Mohamed and Roble each accused the other of holding up the parliamentary elections, which began Nov. 1 and were supposed to be completed by Dec. 24, but as of Saturday only 24 of 275 representatives had been elected.
The months-long dispute is widely seen as distracting the government of the Horn of Africa country from fighting an insurgency against al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab group.
It will also raise concerns about the possibility of renewed clashes between factions in the security forces allied to each side.