Somali foreign minister Abdisaid Muse suspended for alleged abuse of office

Abdisaid Ali, Somalia's foreign minister, arrives at the European Union-Africa Union Summit in Brussels, Belgium, on Thursday, Feb. 17, 2022. Brussels welcomes about 40 African leaders for the first time in eight years, aiming to reset European relations with the continent as it vies with China for influence. Photographer: Thierry Monasse/STA/Bloomberg

Somalia’s foreign minister Abdisaid Muse was suspended by the country’s prime minister Mohamed Roble following allegations of abuse of office, Somali state media reported.

Muse allegedly authorised the release of a ship carrying charcoal illegally exported from Somalia that was detained in Oman, according to a statement from Roble’s office on Tuesday.

FILE PHOTO: Abdisaid Ali, Somalia’s foreign minister. /CFP

Roble reportedly also canceled a letter by Muse authorising the ship’s release. Muse was appointed Somalia’s foreign minister by Roble in November last year having previously held the position of chief of staff in the presidency.

According to the United Nations, more than 80 percent of charcoal produced in Somalia is exported to Gulf States and neighbouring countries.

The illegal trade in charcoal is recognised as a major contributor to insecurity in the Horn of Africa nation, providing a major source of funding for militias, terrorist groups, and other actors linked to conflict, who illegally tax exports.

In 2012, the UN Security Council banned exports of Somali charcoal to try to eliminate a money stream that earned the Somali terrorist group al-Shabaab millions of dollars annually.

A UN report in 2018 revealed that Iran was being used as a transit point for illegal charcoal exports after Oman consolidated its customs procedures.

The charcoal trade has also been linked to environmental degradation in a country that is already prone to drought, famine and food insecurity.

(Story compiled with assistance from wire reports)