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Somalia Premier Quits as Colleagues Cheer
SIRTE, Libya, Oct. 29 - Ali Mohamed Gedi, the prime minister of Somalia, resigned Monday after a long feud with the country’s president that was imperiling Somalia’s beleaguered transitional government.
Ali Mohamed Gedi, Somalia’s prime minister, feuded with the president before quitting.
Mr. Gedi, a veterinarian turned politician, announced his resignation in Baidoa, a town where Parliament meets, saying that he was stepping down for the good of the country.
“There has been a lot of wrangling back and forth,” he said in Parliament. “And to put all this to rest, I am resigning for the interests of the Somali people.”
His colleagues, some of them pursuing a no-confidence motion against him, greeted his resignation with cheers.
As he spoke, thousands of people streamed out of Mogadishu, the perennially shell-shocked capital, as insurgents battled Ethiopian troops. Residents said artillery shells had pounded apartment buildings. Soldiers from both sides flooded into the streets. The black smoke of burning tires wafted over the city.
The Ethiopian troops who invaded Somalia in December seem unable to douse the insurgency, which draws fighters from a mix of different groups: the Islamist forces who briefly ruled Somalia before they were ousted by the Ethiopians, clan militias and rank-and-file profiteers who have parasitically benefited from Somalia’s chaos for years.
Local support for the insurgency seems to be increasing as resentment toward the Ethiopians builds. This past weekend, thousands of Somalis demonstrated against Ethiopian troops. Residents said the Ethiopians had responded by firing on the crowd, killing several people. The Ethiopian military could not immediately be reached for comment.
The seed of Somalia’s problems is clan-versus-clan violence, and Mr. Gedi, 55, was never able to shake the criticism that he did not wield much influence, even within his own subclan, the Abgal.
Mr. Gedi’s rise to power was essentially an Ethiopian creation. He spent much of his veterinary career at the African Union headquarters in Addis Ababa, Ethiopia’s capital. In 2004, Somalia’s transitional Parliament chose him as prime minister after heavy lobbying by Ethiopian officials, who portrayed him as a gifted technocrat.
But he never seemed to get along with Somalia’s president, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a former warlord. The two had a falling-out recently over rival oil deals signed by Mr. Gedi and the president independently of each other, and over corruption accusations against Mr. Gedi and some of his friends.
Some Somalian officials said Mr. Gedi’s resignation could provide an opportunity.
“We will pick someone who will help end the insurgency,” said Abdi Awaleh Jama, an ambassador at large for Somalia’s transitional government. “You have to be a boss. You have to be a power broker. Mr. Gedi wasn’t, and we wasted three years with him.” Mr. Jama said he expected Parliament — with input from President Yusuf — to select another member of the Abgal clan.
Mr. Gedi said he planned to remain in Parliament and possibly to run for office in 2009.
Source: New York Times