May 17, 2010 / 5:26 AM / 9 years ago

Somali president to appoint new PM, speaker quits

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia’s parliament speaker quit on Monday and the president said he would appoint a new prime minister in what analysts saw as a deal to clear the way for a more stable government in the Horn of Africa nation.

Somalia's Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke speaks at the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) headquarters during a food security summit in Rome November 17, 2009. REUTERS/Filippo Monteforte/Pool

Meeting for the first time on Sunday since December, Somalia’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to oust Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke and his Western-backed government. Some also voted to remove speaker Sheikh Aden Madobe.

Analysts said the move by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed was likely decided in a deal with the speaker and the prime minister to save the government from total disintegration and that the president would probably reappoint Sharmarke.

“It is a sort of compromise to save the government from a total collapse,” said Rashid Abdi, a Somalia analyst at the International Crisis Group.

“It is likely that the president will reappoint the current prime minister, as long as they had no rift between them.”

Parliamentary business has been paralysed this year, with many legislators living in Kenya, Europe and North America because of security fears in the war-riven country.

The chamber has also been split by a bitter feud over the duration of Madobe’s term in office and his competence.

There was speculation Madobe might be offered a ministerial post in a new government, in return for his resignation.

NEW BEGINNING?

Analysts say Ahmed has failed to unite some of the country’s warring factions and establish a greater degree of central power that many had hoped at his election in January 2009.

“I do not think the president’s announcement is to increase confusion in the system,” said Abdirahman Moalim Badiyow, history professor at Mogadishu University.

“The resignation of the speaker and the president’s decision seems to be a gentlemen’s agreement paving the way for a new start. And that new beginning will depend on the incoming speaker and prime minister.”

Somalia has been mired in violence and lacked effective central government since the overthrow of a dictator in 1991. Islamist fighters have waged a three-year insurgency that has killed more than 21,000 people.

Elsewhere in Somalia, villagers said Ethiopian troops in armoured vehicles had crossed into the border town of El Barde, in the south central Bakool region.

“Heavily armed Ethiopian troops with battlewagons arrived in the town early Monday afternoon. There was no confrontation and al Shabaab fled the town before the Ethiopians came,” Ali Nur, a resident in El Barde, told Reuters by phone.

Ethiopia sent thousands of troops into Somalia in 2006 to help topple an Islamist movement holding Mogadishu and most of the south. That drew protests from some in the Muslim world and enraged the Islamists, who regrouped to launch an insurgency.

“The Christians have entered the town and our Mujahideen fighters are not far,” said Hassan Maalin Takow, an al Shabaab commander.

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