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Somalian President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed has suspended the prime minister's power to hire and fire officials. The dispute between the two was sparked by the investigation of an unsolved murder.
Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Thursday announced he had withdrawn the powers of Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble.
The decision is the latest development in a bitter dispute that has plunged the country into a constitutional crisis.
The presidency said the suspension of powers would remain in place until elections were concluded later this year.
"The prime minister has violated the transitional constitution, so his executive powers are withdrawn... especially his powers to remove and to appoint officials, until the election is completed," the president's office said in a statement.
Later on Thursday, the prime minister dismissed the president's move as "unlawful."
Roble said he would "only abide by the decisions that are in line with the constitution, and therefore declares that the unlawful letter from the president is baseless and would not be accepted."
The dispute marks an escalation of months of tension between the pair in a country deeply divided by clan rivalries and plagued by militant attacks.
Mohamed and Roble were at odds in April, when the president unilaterally extended his four-year term by two years. This prompted army factions loyal to each man to take control of rival positions in the capital, Mogadishu.
Somalia's two most powerful men have also been locked in a standoff after choosing different individuals to head the country's intelligence service.
Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble last week suspended Fahad Yasin, director of the National Intelligence Service Agency. Roble said he had failed to deliver a report on the murder of a female agent who disappeared in June.
The prime minister appointed another man, Bashir Mohamed Jama, as the agency's interim head.
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed called Roble's move unconstitutional, naming a third man, Yasin Abdullahi Mohamed, as head.
The government last week blamed the Islamist militant group al-Shabab for the agent's death, prompting counter-accusations that the agency itself was involved.
rc/rt (AFP, Reuters)