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Farmajo breaks silence on Ikran murder, appoints 5-member committee to investigate


Monday September 13, 2021

Mogadishu (HOL) - President Farmajo broke his silence on the Ikran Tahlil case on Monday, addressing the issue for the first time publicly by appointing a five-member committee to investigate her disappearance and killing.

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"I hereby appoint a 5-Member Commission of inquiry Chaired by the Attorney-General and deputized by Head of Military Court to expedite investigations on the case of IKRAN TAHLIL and to hand over the findings and evidence to responsible legal institutions for the execution of Justice."

In the presidential decree, Farmajo appointed the Attorney-General to lead the fact-finding mission. The Armed Forces Court Attorney General is also a member of the committee. The three committee members will be nominated later by the Somali Police Force Commander, the Commander of the Somali National Army and Col. Yasin Abdulahi Mohamud, his new appointee Director-General of the National Intelligence and Security Agency.

The statement added that Ikran's case was a "sensitive one that needs a thorough investigation."

Farmajo instructed the commission to submit its investigative reports to the relevant authorities, although there will undoubtedly be demands to make the findings of any report public. There will also likely be apprehension to Somalia's intelligence agency being a part of the investigation. Many lawmakers have called on an independent inquiry into Ikran's murder.

Farmajo declared that the decree came into effect immediately after he signed it.

It is unclear if the Prime Minister- locked in a constitutional power struggle with the President - was made aware of the decision. The PM was previously vocal about his support for an inquiry into the Ikran's murder and issued a 48-hr ultimatum to Somalia's then-intelligence chief Fahad Yasin to produce a report on the agency's initial findings. The PM's audacious move - challenging the President's foremost ally and one of Somalia's leading power brokers - sparked Somalia's latest constitutional crisis as each branch of Somalia's national executive has been issuing competing directives and appointments for over a week.

Earlier this week, two regional presidents arrived in Mogadishu to act as outside mediators to the dispute. After a marathon meeting from Saturday afternoon through early Sunday, the President and PM could not agree on any key points.

Some of Farmajo's critics have quickly denounced the move as another obstruction to a genuine investigation.

Abdirizak Omar Mohamed, an MP and former Minister of Internal Security, tweeted that Farmajo's latest move would inflame political tensions and called on the Prime Minister to respond.

"Faramajo has issued a decree nomination an investigation team to Ikaram Tahlil case. This (decree) not only violates the constitution but undermines the authority of the PM as stipulated by the constitution. The intent of such a ploy is to further a heightened tense. PM Mohamed Roble must respond."

After accusing the President of running interference for Somalia's spy agency last week, the PM told meeting with FMS leaders and the Deputy Secretary-General of the UN on Monday that "all obstructions" to the investigation be removed.

"It is my principal decision that a credible investigation into this case is necessary and that all obstructions to get justice for Ikran and her family must be removed."

Ikran Tahil was a cyber-security expert with Somalia's national intelligence agency. She went missing nearly two and half months ago near her home. She was last seen getting into a vehicle - reportedly owned by NISA - where she vanished into the night, never to be seen again. At the time of her disappearance, it was alleged by a former spy chief that she might have been targeted for her knowledge of Somali troops fighting alongside Ethiopia in the Tigray war.

Her family was stone-walled for answers on their daughter's disappearance. After several weeks - and growing outrage among Somalis - Somalia's intelligence agency issued a vague statement that announced Ikran "fell into the hands of Al-Shabaab" without revealing any details that could potentially corroborate their story. Al-Shabaab, a militant insurgency group that has waged a deadly war against Somalia's internationally-backed government, made the unusual move of denying that it had killed the missing agent.

The embarrassing episode, coupled with mounting political pressure, forced the PM to demand a "believable" explanation from NISA and, namely, its intelligence chief. Fahad Yasin was sacked a little over a day after the PM met with Ikran's family in Mogadishu.

Somalia's stakeholders and international partners worry that this latest fall-out between Somalia's top leaders will derail an election season that has already been pushed back several times due to political disagreements.

The dispute has already drawn a clear and distinct line in the sand and has forced Somalia's political elite to pick a side.

Puntland and Jubaland - two regional states that have resisted Farmajo's attempts at centralizing power - have lent their support to the PM along with the Council of Presidential Candidates and Hawiye clan elders.

Somalia's Ministry of Information, which controls state-run media, took the unprecedented step of censoring the President, asking all of its employees not to publish Farmajo's directives while promoting PM Roble's appointments and announcements.

Somalia's Speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Mursal Abdirahman, has come out publicly supporting Farmajo and declared the PM's appointments illegal and, thus, null and void.

Somalia's intelligence agency, the department at the centre of this controversy, tweeted on Wednesday that Farmajo's appointee took office as the nation's spy chief. The tweet came as pro-Farmaajo troops reportedly took over NISA HQ.

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