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Mogadishu, Somalia – Somali Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire was removed from his post in a vote of no confidence on Saturday, the country’s parliamentary speaker said.

A simmering power struggle between Khaire and President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed provided the backdrop to the vote, which resulted in 170 of parliament’s 178 MPs backing the motion.

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President Mohamed, who appointed Khaire in February 2017, has been at loggerheads with the prime minister over when to stage Somalia’s national elections, due in February 2021. The president was in favor of postponing the nationwide ballot, with Khaire insisting it should go ahead.

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“After learning that the government had failed in its promise to prepare a clear plan that paves the way for one-person-one-vote elections in 2021… parliament undertook a vote of no confidence against the government and its prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire,” speaker of the house Mohamed Mursal told reporters.

“The president of the federal government of Somalia… will appoint a prime minister and a government which will pave the way for elections,” Mursal added.

Unconstitutional ‘dark day’

Mohamed Abukar Islow, the internal security minister and an ally of Khaire, accused the house speaker and the president of plotting to remove the prime minister as part of plans to cement their own positions.

“It is a dark day,” Islow said, saying the move was unconstitutional as an election should occur every four years.

President appoints caretaker Prime Minister

President Farmajo has temporarily promoted Deputy Prime Minister Mahdi Mohamed Guled to act as caretaker PM, a statement issued by the president’s office said.

The West African country has set itself the goal of holding a one-person, one-vote election next year, as opposed to a complex system in which special delegates pick lawmakers who then vote for the president. The objective was to have its first full democratic election since 1969, but that proposal now lies in doubt.

Norway-born Khaire, 52, was a political newcomer when he was appointed prime minister, having previously held the position of Director of the Africa department of the British firm Soma Oil and Gas.

Civil war, clan conflict and political instability

Khaire is a member of the Hawiye clan while President Mohamed is from the Darod clan, in keeping with the expected balance of power at the head of the Somali executive.

Since gaining independence on July 1, 1960, Somalia has faced civil war, clan conflict, secessions, and the constant threat of terrorism.

Terror, targeted shootings and roadside bombs have become the new normal in the country home to some 15 million people and it remains under threat from the Islamist al-Shabaab group, which carries out most of the attacks.

With ties to al-Qaida, al-Shabaab’s ultimate aim is to establish an Islamist state. It currently controls a small part of the country and often carries out attacks against government, military and civilian targets.

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