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PM, President at odds over AU Commission chairperson expulsion

Somalia’s top leaders are again at odds after the Prime Minister abruptly expelled a top-level African Union diplomat from Somalia for “acts that are incompatible with his status as representative of the African Union Commission,” according to a brief press statement issued by the PM’s office.

Francisco Madeira, the Special Representative of the Chairperson of the African Union Commission (SRCC) for Somalia, was declared persona non grata on Thursday and given 48 hours to leave Somalia.

The announcement was immediately rebuffed by President Farmajo, who called the expulsion an “illegal action” against Madeira. Villa Somalia said that the President alone had the authority to expel a foreign diplomat.

President Farmajo asked Somalia’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs to apologize to the AU for the “illegitimate & reckless decision from an unauthorized office.”

Madeira, who is from Mozambique, was appointed to the office in October 2015.

While the Prime Minister did not elaborate on the reason for Maderia’s expulsion, audio purported to be the AU chairperson speaking in a meeting was leaked late Wednesday night. In the recording, a frustrated Madeira is heard saying that PM is pressuring AMISOM to align with his office.

“One thing to force AMISOM to align with the Prime Minister. I don’t know if you’ve felt it… because they (PM) don’t have a force. They want a force to oppose Farmajo.”

Madeira is also heard saying that opposition figures – ostensibly including the Prime Minister – were capitalizing on the recent killing of lawmaker Amina Mohamed for political gain.

“This one (attack) was on an MP, but now they (opposition) realized to take Farmajo on because the possibility of Farmajo winning, for them, seems to be big. They need to stop that. The idea is not necessarily the lady (MP Amina) herself but the (political) capital she represents.

It was not yet immediately apparent when the audio was leaked.

Francisco Maderia is not the first foreign diplomat to be expelled from Somalia. In early November 2021, Somalia declared Maderia’s deputy, Simon Mulongo, as persona non grata for his support of an AU proposal that would have seen AMISOM fold into a joint AU-UN force instead of the Somalia-supported Somali Transition Plan.

Nicholas Haysom, the UN’s top envoy in Somalia, was expelled in January 2019 after raising concerns about the killing of protesters allied with ex-Al Shabaab militant Islamist Mukhtar Robow.

Somalia’s two highest leaders, President Farmajo and PM Roble have been at the forefront of Somalia’s protracted political crisis, which has derailed the indirect federal elections for over a year and a half. In late December, Farmajo attempted to suspend PM Roble for suspected corruption. The PM fought back and called the move a coup attempt.



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