Somalia’s feuding leaders were locked in a new dispute on Thursday after the prime minister ordered the expulsion of the African Union’s envoy to the troubled country.
Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble’s office said it had declared Francisco Madeira persona non grata “for engaging in acts that are incompatible with his status as representative of the African Union Commission” and ordered him to leave Somalia within 48 hours.
The statement posted on Twitter did not elaborate on the reasons for Roble’s decision about Madeira, a Mozambican diplomat who has been the AU Commission chief’s special representative to Somalia since 2015.
But the office of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, described his rival’s action against Madeira as illegal.
The presidency said on Twitter it “has received no complaints of interference with its sovereignty & doesn’t endorse any illegal action against Amb. Francisco Madeira”.
It said Farmajo has instructed the foreign ministry to apologise to the AU over the “illegitimate and reckless decision from an unauthorised office”.
It is not clear who holds sway over the role of the AU representative in the country.
Last week, the UN Security Council voted unanimously for a new peacekeeping force for the Horn of Africa nation, where Al-Shabaab insurgents have been seeking to overthrow the fragile government for more than a decade.
The African Union Transition Mission in Somalia (ATMIS) replaces the African Union Mission in Somalia (AMISOM) which was created by the Security Council in 2007.
Drawn from across Africa, the mission drove Al-Shabaab out of Mogadishu in 2011, creating enough stability for government and federal agencies to take shape, and two rounds of elections to be held.
But a bitter power struggle between Farmajo and Roble has hindered efforts to hold long-delayed elections after the expiry of the president’s mandate in February 2021.