Mogadishu: Somalia’s feuding leaders were locked in a fresh dispute Thursday after the prime minister ordered the expulsion of the African Union’s envoy — a move rejected by the president as “illegal”. A power struggle between the two men has hobbled elections and prolonged a political crisis in a country reliant on foreign aid to deal with drought and a violent Islamist insurgency. The latest bustup erupted when Prime Minister Mohamed Hussein Roble declared AU envoy Francisco Madeira persona non grata “for engaging in acts that are incompatible with his status as representative of the African Union Commission”. In a statement, Roble’s office ordered the Mozambican diplomat — who has been the top AU diplomat in Somalia since 2015 and is in charge of the body’s peacekeeping operations there — to leave the country within 48 hours, but did not elaborate on the reasons. But the office of President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed said it had instructed the foreign ministry to apologise to the AU over the “illegitimate and reckless decision from an unauthorised office.” “The presidency disowns and nullifies the illegal action that threatens our relations with the global international community,” it said. It is not clear who holds sway over the role of the AU representative in the country. But the presidency said Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmajo, was the “guardian of the sovereignty” of the state and that it was his role to accept the diplomatic credentials of all foreign envoys. Farmajo’s term expired in February 2021 before fresh elections were held and efforts to remain in power by decree were fiercely opposed and triggered armed clashes in the capital Mogadishu. To avert a crisis, and under pressure from the international community, he appointed Roble to negotiate a way towards concluding elections in a timely manner. But the pair squabbled over authority, often embroiling in public quarrels over hirings and firings in the upper ranks of government. The election has lurched from one crisis to the next, and deadlines have passed unmet.