Cablegate: Somalia - President and Prime Minister Face Hostile

DE RUEHNR #2053/01 2461158
R 021158Z SEP 08




E.O. 12958: N/A
SUBJECT: SOMALIA - President and Prime Minister Face Hostile

REF: A) Addis Ababa 2338
B) Nairobi 1958

NAIROBI 00002053 001.2 OF 002

1. (SBU) SUMMARY: After signing an August 26 agreement in Addis
Ababa to reconcile internal political conflicts, President Yusuf and
Prime Minister Hassan Hussein returned to Baidoa to brief parliament
on the accord. While the two senior officials convinced their
respective camps to support the Addis agreement, continued discord
within the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will challenge its
implementation. On September 1, a motion of no-confidence tabled
against the Prime Minister became an overwhelming vote of confidence
in his government. However, another group of MPs are gaining
momentum on impeachment proceedings against President Yusuf. While
parliament bickers over the future of Somalia's two highest-ranking
leaders, others like Mogadishu Mayor Mohammed Dheere have publicly
welcomed the Addis agreement, stating that he is looking forward to
upcoming elections in Mogadishu and the Banadir region. END

Support for the Addis Agreement

2. (SBU) On August 27, President Yusuf, Prime Minister Hassan
Hussein and Speaker of Parliament Sheikh Aden Mohamed Nur, arrived
in Baidoa to brief parliament on the agreement they signed in Addis
Ababa (Ref A). President Yusuf addressed his supporters at the
presidential building, while PM Hussein addressed the MPs, sharing
his views at a local hotel. Our contacts told us that separately,
each camp agreed to support the Addis agreement.

3. (SBU) Mohamed Dheere, Mayor of Mogadishu and Banadir Governor
also publicly supported the agreement. In an August 27 interview,
Dheere said he welcomes whatever Somalia's leaders agree upon.
Dheere said he is pleased that Banadir residents finally have been
given the opportunity to elect their own administration. He
declared his intent to run in the upcoming elections but argued that
he still remains in office until another leader is elected to
replace him. Dheere stated that no one can order another out of
office without due process, adding that he is happy his detractors
failed in their unceremonious bid to remove him.

Parliament Jeers TFG Leaders

4. (U) Although MPs initially signaled President Yusuf and Prime
Minister Hussein they supported the agreement, when the two leaders
appeared before parliament on August 28 they faced a hostile crowd.
There was immediately an effort by some MPs to debate the
no-confidence measure that has been brewing over the last couple of
weeks against the PM (Ref B). Another group asked to hear the
President and PM explain the Addis agreement. The speaker put the
issue to a vote -- 131 MPs voted to hear a discussion of the Addis
agreement, 98 voted to debate the no-confidence vote.

5. (U) The Prime Minister began by reading the agreement and
apologizing for his government's shortcomings. He promised
improvements in security and financial management, two areas over
which parliament had pilloried him. He praised President Yusuf.
There was some heckling and booing among the MPs, but they cheered
when the Prime Minister announced the addition of five ministers and
warned that the international community would punish Djibouti
agreement spoilers. Nonetheless, during PM Hussein's presentation,
the Speaker implored the MPs on two separate occasions to listen to

6. (SBU) When President Yusuf appeared before parliament, he was
met with such a chorus of boos that he threatened to leave. After
the Speaker restored order, the President spoke, praising Prime
Minister Hussein and the Addis agreement. Yusuf expressed certainty
that supporters of stability, peace, unity, nationhood and elections
for Somalia will back the signed agreement. MPs jeered when Yusuf
said he'd been a man of war for 40 years, but was now committed to
peace in Somalia.

7. (SBU) At one point in the speech, Yusuf may have shown a glimpse
of the strain he's been under. He intended to say he was doing all
he could for Somalia, but said Puntland instead. Of course, he
immediately corrected himself, but MPs ridiculed him. In a pointed
response, Yusuf repeated his earlier threat that all who did not
listen "will hear from me." Yusuf singled out one MP, shouting,
"Shut up ...there is no one here weaker than you! Keep quiet!"
(Comment: Yusuf is 73 years old. There's no doubt he's been under

NAIROBI 00002053 002.2 OF 002

considerable stress, especially in the last several weeks, and it's
shown in his reportedly irascible dealings with the Ethiopians,
Embassy Addis, and in his misstatement and outburst before
parliament. End Comment.)

--------------------------------------------- ---
Parliament Debates No-Confidence Vote Against PM
--------------------------------------------- ---

8. (SBU) On August 25, Deputy Speaker of Parliament Dalha revived
MPs' efforts to force out Prime Minster Hussein by circulating a 12
page diatribe of complaints against the PM. To frustrate this
latest effort, when he returned from Addis, Speaker Nur refused to
formally reconvene the legislators. Instead, Nur called conferences
and committee meetings where he reportedly chided the MPs for
wasting their time on bringing down the government even in the wake
of the Addis agreement. The Speaker also told MPs that the
international community was furious with their no-confidence
fixation and, urged on by SRSG Ahmedou Ould-Abdullah, was
considering suspending MPs' salaries (Note: Several donors, most
notably the EU, are supporting MPs with monthly stipends of $1,200.
End Note.) The Speaker's delays and threats apparently eroded
support for the no-confidence measure.

Prime Minister Safe, President Vulnerable

9. (SBU) Sensing momentum had swung in the Prime Minister's favor,
on September 1 the Speaker reconvened parliament and called not for
a no-confidence vote, but for a resolution commending the Prime
Minister. MPs told us that the "confidence motion" passed
overwhelmingly, 191 votes to 7 (with five abstentions). While this
vote for the moment ends parliament's recent moves against the PM,
another faction may attempt to impeach the President. Although
impeachment is extremely difficult under parliament's rules, Yusuf's
popularity is waning even in his most trusted circles.


© Scoop Media

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