Fistfights erupted in Somalia’s parliament late Wednesday as lawmakers elected a new speaker in a move condemned by the troubled nation’s president as “null and void”.
Several supporters of Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan — sacked as speaker in a controversial move last month by 280 MPs — were injured in the latest of several parliamentary brawls.
The MPs were beaten by colleagues during the rowdy vote but despite the violence a majority of 287 lawmakers chose Madobe Nunow from five other candidates.
“The lawmakers gave their majority votes to Madobe Nunow who replaces the former speaker, and from now on the new speaker will lead parliament,” said Ahmed Dhimbil Roble, deputy speaker and chair of the session.
But the election was denounced by the national security committee, chaired by President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.
“After reviewing the current security and political situation of the country and the chaos in the parliament, the National Security Committee decided that the session of today — and others it followed — have no legal foundation,” a committee statement said.
“All of its outcomes are null and void.”
The apparent inability of Somalia’s transitional leadership to conduct even its own parliament peacefully offers a grim prospect for the war-torn nation, where elections are due August under a UN-backed deal.
The writ of the Western-backed government, which controls only Mogadishu with the capital defended from Al-Qaeda linked Shebab rebels by a 10,000-strong African Union force, will then expire.
The MPs who sacked Adan in December were upset that he had not convened the 550-seat parliament for two months. His reasons for doing so remain unclear, and he has denounced the sessions as illegal.
Fistfights are common in Somalia’s unruly parliament, where lawmakers have even pulled guns on each other.
Adan, who has difficult ties with the president, also held the speaker’s chair between 2004 and 2007. He retook the post in 2010 after a political dispute forced his predecessor from office.