Somali security forces have detained a former minister on Sunday night after a violent clash with his bodyguards, the security ministry said on Monday.
Abdirahman Abdishakur, the former Minister of Planning was arrested at his home. He is accused of treason.
Abdishakur reportedly defied the arrest warrant, forcing security forces to raid his home and clash with his bodyguards.
The Internal Security Ministry confirmed that he was detained in the raid during a news conference on Monday, but declined to confirm reports of five of Abdishakur’s bodyguards being killed during the overnight raid on his home.
Abdiaziz Ali Hildiban, the ministry’s spokesperson confirming the apprehension of Abdishakur said the security forces sent to arrest the politician met resistance from his guards, prompting clashes.
“At around 11 am our security officials, who had a lawful order (for arrest) reached the residential house of Abdirahman Abdishakur. But the citizens at the house did not abide by the instructions to search the house. Abdirahman Abdishakur who was the wanted person was at that time inside the house. He clearly defied the order and eventually, his guards started firing at the officials and that led the sides to exchange fire,” said Hildhiban, adding, “The soldiers succeeded capturing him safely and confiscated equipment with them that will help us in our investigation according to the law. The security department executed their work in line with the constitution and no one is above the law.”
Members of Abdishakur’s Wadajir party report that he sustained injuries on his hand in the brief clash.
The Attorney General, Ahmed Ali Dahir, said that Abdishakur’s house is a meeting place for “those who want to bring down the government”.
Hours before his arrest, Abdishakur took to Twitter to protest what he called an “unconstitutional war on Somali MPs and Parliament.”
“In post-civil war, we’ve agreed 2 key pillars: Federalism & democratic constitution. The federal structure has came under attack few days ago by Somali govt. Today, the Attorney General has launched unconstitutional war on Somali MPs & parliament. We’re facing a critical time.”
A few days earlier, upon hearing the Attorney General’s call to Somali parliament to strip impunity from two lawmakers, Abdishakur posted a message on his facebook.
“Let lawmakers be strangled, let their immunity be removed: This is a hopeless attack which portrays despair.”
Abdishakur is not a member of parliament and thus does not enjoy political immunity.
The raid drew condemnation from other politicians.
“What the government is doing is against Islam and healthy politics,” lawmaker Mahad Salad told Reuters. “We condemn the government’s immoral act. We also order for the release of the ex-minister.”
Dozens of protesters also took to the streets. Many of them describing a “witch hunt” with tribal undertones.
Abdirahman Abdishakur has been active in politics for the last decade. He was the Deputy Chairman of the Alliance for the Re-liberation Somalia in 2007 and was a negotiator during the Djibouti Talks. Most recently, he stood in the February election won by President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.
He was the Minister of National Planning and International Cooperation from 2009-2011. He signed the ill-famed Memorandum of Understanding (MoU) with Kenya that stated that the border would run east along the line of latitude. The decision – one which he described as “amicable” to the Daily Nation – all but determined the fate of 100,000 square kilometres of ocean, and as much as six potential oil blocks. Somalia won a decision from the International Court of Justice in February to have its case heard in a full hearing.
The arrest comes on the heels of the Attorney General’s decision to prosecute two sitting MPs, Abdinasir Shuriye and Hassan Moalim Mohamed, for treason. It is alleged that the two MPs were conspiring to bring an impeachment motion against the President with funding from foreign government(s). However, the Attorney General must first seek to strip the two MPs of their immunity, a move that can only be approved by the Parliament.