Mogadishu, Somalia (Reuters) – Somalia’s prime minister told cabinet ministers on Monday to resign if they are unhappy, intensifying a dispute which has stymied efforts to rebuild the country after decades of war.
More than 100 lawmakers loyal to President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud have put forward a parliamentary motion to sack Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. Tensions between the two boiled over last month when Ahmed reshuffled the cabinet and sidelined one of Mohamud’s main allies.
Western donors who have promised to help rebuild Somalia’s battered institutions fear Mohamud’s push to oust a second prime minister in less than a year will weaken the government in its fight against Islamist rebels.
Somali media websites on Monday said about 14 cabinet ministers have sent a letter to the prime minister’s office asking for his resignation.
Ahmed said the letter has not yet been received and dismissed calls for him to step down.
“Cabinet ministers should continue their work for the people and they should be cautious of being … used for destroying the law and governance,” the prime minister said in a statement.
“The prime minister is ready to accept the resignation of any minister who wants to resign,” the statement added.
A parliamentary debate on whether to sack Ahmed descended into chaos last week after his supporters blew whistles and shouted out slogans, forcing the speaker to halt the session.
Donors had planned a major conference this week in Copenhagen to showcase Somalia’s political progress and appeal for more funds.
But the United States said last week it would boycott the conference because of the political infighting, while the United Nations and the European Union have issued statements warning the quarrelling will deepen political tensions.
Nicholas Kay, the U.N. envoy to Somalia, and a delegation of Western ambassadors met Mohamud and Ahmed on Sunday but failed to reconcile the two men.
“The ongoing political crisis in Somalia is a serious risk to further progress,” Kay warned after the meeting in a statement.
(Reporting by Abdi Sheikh; Writing by Drazen Jorgic; Editing by George Obulutsa/Ruth Pitchford)