Somali lawmakers should stop bickering and protect the war-weary population, the African nation's leader said on Monday in response to an increasingly acrimonious political standoff.
There has been bitter wrangling between Somalia's often absent parliamentarians over the term of the chamber's speaker, a spat that analysts say is paralysing government business.
In a statement released on Monday, President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed urged legislators and cabinet members to "set their priorities right in the face of the daunting security and humanitarian challenges the nation faces".
Armed opposition groups have waged a three-year war against the Western-backed transition government and they now control large swaths of southern and central Somalia, and much of the capital Mogadishu.
When Ahmed was elected president in January 2009, there was optimism he might be able to unite some of Somalia's warring factions and establish some government control.
Parliament has not met since December and the latest attempts have been scuppered, largely by the disputes over the speaker's mandate.
"They are a distraction from the essential activities and responsibilities of the government, parliament and the leadership and precious time should not be devoted to this counterproductive activity," the U.N. envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould-Adallah, said last week.
The speaker, Sheikh Aden Madobe, and his supporters argue that his term started afresh when Sharif was elected after former President Abdullahi Yusuf departed prematurely.
Madobe's opponents say his term ended last August.
"We MPs are not against speaker Aden Madobe but we defend the codes of conduct we unanimously agreed. He has no legitimacy to claim he is speaker," lawmaker Ibrahim Yarow told Reuters.
Somalia's speaker is among the most powerful political figures in a country plagued by violence since a dictator was ousted in 1991. Under the terms of Somalia's transitional charter, power is transferred to the speaker for one month if the president is killed or deemed not fit for office.
ReutersLast Mod: 26 Nisan 2010, 20:30