The security minister of a Somali regional administration, Abdirashid Janan, said on Wednesday he had defected along with hundreds of troops and allied himself to President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed aka Farmajo, who faces calls by rivals to quit after his term as national leader ended.
Abdirashid Janan, security minister of the semi-autonomous Jubbaland state, said he had defected together with 400 troops from Jubbaland’s forces, potentially bolstering the position of the president, known in Somalia by his nickname ‘Farmajo’.
Farmajo is facing pressure to resign, including from Jubbaland and another semi-autonomous state, Puntland. Somalia’s remaining three regional governments back him.
The standoff has stoked tensions in the Horn of Africa nation that was ripped apart by civil war and which is still battling an insurgency by al Shabaab, an Islamist group that launches attacks in Mogadishu and elsewhere.
“I defected to the federal government. I do not want to be part of the … war in the region,” Janan told Reuters, adding a colonel was among the defecting troops.
Jubbaland leader Ahmed Mohamed Islam Madobe said in a statement he had sacked Janan as security minister for conducting talks with the president.
Officials in both Jubbaland and Puntland say they do not recognize Farmajo as Somalia’s president since his term expired.
Farmajo’s four-year term ended last month without a successor. Somalia’s parliament was supposed to elect a new president on Feb. 8, but the exercise was delayed because new lawmakers have yet to be picked.
Opponents of Farmajo, who is seeking a second term, also accuse him of packing his supporters into the regional and national boards who choose the legislators.
Talks have been taking place involving Farmajo, various political leaders, and members of the international community aimed at fixing a new date for elections. The presidents of Jubbaland and Puntland however refused to participate, arguing Farmajo must not chair the talks as he was no longer president.
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