By Mohammed Dhaysane
MOGADISHU, Somalia (AA) - Somalia's opposition presidential candidates called on the country's president Tuesday to leave office "as soon as possible," while the presidency denounced the move.
"Mohamed Abdullahi (Mohamed) Farmaajo tried to seize civilian constitutional institutions by military force," the opposition presidential candidates said in a statement.
They called for an "urgent investigation" and demanded a case to be filed against him and those who supported him in the "failed coup."
The current political unrest in the country emerged after the country’s federal electoral agency, the Federal Electoral Implementation Team (FEIT), ousted its chairman Mohamed Hassan Irro over allegations of incompetence and the violation of neutrality and the president suspended the powers of his prime minister, Mohamed Hussein Roble, over alleged corruption and misuse of public land.
The prime minister, however, defied the order, describing the president's decision to suspend him as "outrageous."
It has been 14 months since Somali leaders reached an election agreement, but there are very few tangible achievements to show, and now a new concern of armed conflict has emerged in the country.
-Ex-president calls for unity
Somalia's former president and current chairman of the Council of Presidential Candidates Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a press conference in the capital Mogadishu called for unity to complete the country's elections, labeling Monday's events in the capital "unfortunate."
"The attempt to oust the prime minister in charge of the election is unfortunate and a tragedy," he said.
"The current situation is a critical one. All politicians and the international community who supports Somalia need to unite to complete the elections," he said.
The Somali presidency meanwhile denounced the opposition's joint statement, denying their accusations.
"The issues of treason, a coup and calls for resignations are sideshows and distractions necessitated to cover up the ongoing case which has also cost the Navy commander brigadier his job. The only coup that H.E. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo can be accused of is a coup against graft, and that has set him apart from his competitors. It would be misleading to apply diversionary tactics and employ incitement or coercion instead of responding to the issues facing Mr. Mohamed Hussein Roble," it said in a statement.
"The presidential candidates are in the race themselves and can in no logical reasoning issue ultimatums to a fellow contestant in a level playing field. Their demands are a non-issue," it added.
"H.E. President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo’s goal is to take our nation through timely, credible and transparent elections. This is why he has also convened a leadership consultative meeting with the Federal Member States and Benadir administration since those who were tasked with the elections resorted to land-grabbing and disrupting the election committees to derail the entire process."