Somalia: Farmaajo, Roble differences escalate over Ikran Tahlil's murder probe


MOGADISHU, Somalia - For almost two weeks now, the death of Ikran Tahlil, a junior employee within the National Intelligence and Security Agency [NISA], has significantly dominated headlines within Somalia and outside the country, something which is significantly shaping the politics of the Horn of Africa nation.

It all started with the disappearance and subsequent murder of Ikran Tahlil, who until her death, worked as a cyber security expert within the agency. Despite the search by the family, NISA kept silent, only to announce her death two months later.

Although the agency blamed Al-Shabaab, the militants were quick to dismiss the claims, sentiments which were also supported by the family. Thereafter, the death took a political angle, threatening to plunge the country into chaos.

At first, PM Mohamed Hussein Roble asked former NISA boss Fahad Yasin to present a report on the death, only for the director to defy the PM, leading to his indefinite suspension. The PM responded by replacing him with Lieutenant General Bashir Mohamed Jama alias Goobe.

But a furious Farmaajo, who had opposed Yasin's suspension, recruited the former Al-Jazeera journalist as his National Security Advisor, before also bringing on board Yasin Abdullahi, who was Mogadishu spy chief, as the new NISA boss.

Both parties claimed to be protected by the law. Further, PM Roble would go ahead to sack security Minister Hassan Hundubey Jimale, replacing him with Abdullahi Nor, a move which was condemned by Farmajo.

It's the mode of investigations now which has caused sharp divisions between the two leaders, further risking to erode gains made the country. While Roble wants the military court to investigate the death of Ikran Tahlil, Farmaajo is against the move, preferring a commission of inquiry.

On Tuesday, the president suffered a major setback, after the family of Ikran Tahlil dismissed the Commission of Inquiry, insisting that they are only comfortable with the military court. Equally, Roble has also rejected the commission, arguing that it's a strategy by Farmaajo to obstruct justice.

The family has sued four individuals at the military court, who include former NISA boss Fahad Yasin and his deputy Abdullahi Kulane. The family says Yasin was among the last people the slain spy spoke with.

Analysts say Roble has gained substantially in the ongoing case, arguing that his consistency is strongly within the rule of law. It's Farmaajo who seems to be losing confidence from among the public.

The president has also lost control of the state media, which has been avoiding publishing statements made by Villa Somalia on the matter. The presidency has only been relying on its official pages, further showcasing a widening rift.

On Wednesday, PM Roble also made more changes in NISA, which could rattle Villa Somalia. In a statement, he said he had appointed Muhyadin Mohamed [Warbac] to be the NISA boss in Mogadishu, a position which was held by Yasin Abdullahi, Farmaajo's other close ally.

While all these are happening, the country is set to go to elections of president and Lower House. Critics argue that Farmaajo is keen to disrupt the exercise by creating anarchy four political survival.


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