Former president and opposition leader Sheikh Sharif Ahmed has declared the opposition will ‘decisively fight back’ any attempts by the federal government to suppress its activities in the country.
Speaking upon arrival from Beletweyne where his entourage had briefly been held back from traveling early Sunday, visibly angry Ahmed said just like other elements were removed in the country, ‘so shall we’ with ‘this government’.
Referring to the removal of warlords and the militant group Al-Shabaab from Mogadishu, the former leader who led the last Transitional Federal Government until 2012 said ‘if they (federal government) don’t stop, we will remove them’.
The opposition leaders were held back early Sunday in Mogadishu from traveling to Beletweyne in what the government attributed to poor state of the airport in Beletweyne. Somali Civil Aviation Authority (SCAA) told HOL it advised the pilot to ‘fly at his own discretion’ since up to 600 metres of the airport was ‘wet’.
Other planes however landed at the airport and television pictures showed a largely dry airport facility.
In a swift rejoinder, the federal government said the remarks from the former president ‘did not befit the stature of a former head of state. Information Minister Mohamed Abdi Mareye said Sunday evening the former president should ‘guard his status as former head of state’. Mareye noted the government was ‘surprised’ by Ahmed’s remarks’.
The sharp criticism from the opposition leader adds to deteriorating relations between the opposition and the federal government as the country gears up for elections starting late next year.