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24 Dec 2008 11:08
Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has decided to resign and is expected to announce his departure on Saturday, his spokesperson said.
The announcement came shortly after the resignation of a politician he named prime minister last week, who said he did not want to be an obstacle to peace in the Horn of Africa nation.
“The president has already written his resignation letter and he is expected to announce it on the coming Saturday,” said Hussein Mohamed Mohamud, a presidential spokesperson.
“It is not good for me to predict or explain his reasons for resigning. President Yusuf will explain everything when he resigns.”
Yusuf appointed Mohamed Mohamud Guled after sacking Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein earlier this month, but Parliament and the international community backed Hussein, effectively leaving the already weak government with two prime ministers.
The president has since come under heavy pressure from Washington to prevent the government collapsing and regional countries imposed sanctions on Yusuf this week for hampering a UN-hosted peace process.
The rift between Yusuf and Hussein has been blamed for stalling peace talks and threatens to tear apart the Western-backed administration at a time Islamist insurgents are camped on the outskirts of the capital Mogadishu.
Analysts believe the rival political camps could revive militias and take their fight onto the streets—where the insurgency is fighting the Ethiopians and African peacekeepers.
Hussein is open to including Islamists in the peace process and held talks last weekend in Djibouti with Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, the leader of the moderate Islamist opposition.
Western nations and Somalia’s neighbours have invested a huge amount of political capital in the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) and have become frustrated that it has proved largely ineffectual so far.
Soldiers from neighbouring Ethiopia have been propping up the government for the past two years, but there only some 3 000 soldiers left and Addis Ababa says they will leave by January.
The Islamist insurgency controls most of southern Somalia outside the capital Mogadishu and Baidoa, the seat of parliament, and analysts predict it will seize the rest when the Ethiopians go unless more peacekeepers are sent.
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