Somalia’s president fired the mayor of the capital Mogadishu on Sunday, in an apparent bid to defuse moves toward greater autonomy for the city.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed named current Information Minister Abdirahman Omar Osman to the post of Mogadishu mayor and governor of the Banadir administration, the region that includes the city, according to a statement from his office.
Osman replaces Thabit Abdi Mohamed who has served just nine months in office.
Immediately after the mayor’s firing, government security forces were deployed across Mogadishu to forestall any potential protest against the move.
Earlier, Mohamed’s supporters in the city council had nominated him to head an autonomous Banadir administration, hoping to secure for the city and surrounding area equal status to Somalia’s six regional states, which have their own presidents and enjoy a greater degree of autonomy.
The central government is opposed to any such efforts.
The row started earlier this month when the mayor called for a conference to discuss the future status of Banadir region, against the will of the president, who is better known by his nickname Farmajo.
Over the years, Somalia has been facing many political and security problems, including threats from militants.
US forces in the country said Friday that four Al-Shabab militants were killed in an airstrike as part of the ongoing offensive against the rebels.
The US commander said the strike took place on Thursday in southern Somalia, around 50 km northwest of the port city of Kismayo.
The commander did not provide details on the attack, which it said was undertaken “in coordination with the Federal Government of Somalia.”
But it said no civilians were killed.
“US forces will continue to use all authorized and appropriate measures to protect US citizens and to disable terrorist threats,” the commander said in a statement.
It was the second strike by US forces so far this year against the Al-Shabab militants.
The group has been fighting to overthrow successive internationally backed governments in Mogadishu since 2007, and frequently deploy car and truck bombs against military, government and civilian targets. US military attacks have increased over the past year.
According to a study by the Foundation for Defense of Democracies, a Washington think tank, 35 US airstrikes were conducted in Somalia in 2017, a huge increase over prior years.