May 8, 2014 / 4:49 PM / 4 years ago

Somali MPs demand president quit, threaten impeachment

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - More than 100 Somali lawmakers have signed a letter demanding the president resign for failing to improve security and meet other promises, threatening to impeach him if he does not quit.

The petition, the first of its kind against President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, has enough signatures to force an impeachment debate in parliament.

But such a move could be blocked by the high court, which would have to approve it, and more backers would be needed to vote Mohamud out.

The initiative highlights the growing frustration in Somalia at the government’s failure to deliver more tangible change in a nation struggling to rebuild after two decades of war.

The president has also faced criticism from Western donors over financial management. Two central bank governors left in quick succession last year.

“The reasons why we want him to resign are obviously known by every Somali and clearly stated in detail in the statement letter we had signed and handed to him,” Abdiladif Muse Nur, a member of parliament, told Reuters.

He said the president had failed to deliver better security, after an upsurge in attacks by Islamist insurgents in Mogadishu that have included the killing of two members of parliament and a raid into the presidential compound.

The lawmaker also said Mohamud’s government had failed to lift the beleaguered economy, revive public services and reconcile the nation, which includes a region that has declared independence and large areas still under Islamist rebel control.

The president, who was picked by parliament, has defended his record and said lawmakers had the right to express their views although he called for a “constructive” discussion.

“Let’s encourage where there is progress and deliberate on the performance of the sections where there is a setback,” he said on Wednesday after the lawmakers announced their plan to demand he resign.

Although still full of bombed-out buildings, Mogadishu has enjoyed a mini-boom, with new hotels, restaurants and other buildings going up. It is also collecting more revenues from the port and airport. It plans to tax some thriving companies.

The members of parliament said the letter had 116 signatures, more than a third of the 275-seat parliament needed to call for an impeachment debate. But it is short of the two-thirds needed to force him out.

One lawmaker said the high court had to assess and approve the validity of any charges of an impeachment request - even if it had the required signatures - and could block it proceeding.

Writing by Edmund Blair; Editing by Robin Pomeroy

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