The interim speaker of Parliament, Abdisalam Dhabanad, said that government forces were used to obstruct the swearing-in-ceremony for the 16 Gedo MPs elected in Elwak.
Dhabanad said that Somali police prevented his team from accessing government buildings to swear in lawmakers.
“We refused a break; even though we are in the Holy Month of Ramadan, we have been working hard to ensure that MPs are elected and sworn into office within 7-8 days. The police refused to allow us to hold the ceremony.”
Dhabanad added that he was “chased” from multiple venues by government security forces.
We were followed to the Afisiyoni tent by the Somali police chief and his deputies, who forced us to leave the venue. We finally found a hotel to host the swearing-in-ceremony, and the MPs began to arrive, but then the police began opening fire on the hotel.”
The interim speaker believes that the purpose of the interference by Police Chief General Abdi Hassan Mohamed Hijaar is to sabotage the electoral process.
Hijaar was appointed by President Farmajo and believed to be one of the closest Villa Somalia allies in the security sector.
Somalia’s Prime Minister – who endorsed the elections in Elwak – immediately condemned the attack on Gedo lawmakers in Mogadishu.
“Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble warns police and intelligence chiefs against being involved in disrupting the final stages of the election and urges the Somali public to keep an eye on the people behind the organization of actions aimed to disrupt the completion of the election.”
Jubaland regional President Ahmed Madobe also condemned the attack.
Abdirizak Omar, the Chair of the parliamentary committee tasked with managing the election of the Lower House speaker, said that he was “dismayed” by the use of state violence in the electoral process.
“I am dismayed by the extra-constitutional use of violence by the chief of police and Banadir Regional commander to disrupt the swearing-in of MPs. The security forces shouldn’t be used as pawns for political instability. The election of the speakers and deputies should proceed smoothly.”
Despite the incidences, the members of parliament who were voted in from Elwaq have been officially sworn in. Dhabanad said they would participate in the upcoming parliamentary proceedings, including electing a house speaker and the president.