One of Somalia’s two prime ministers resigned today bringing the feuding, divided government one step closer to reunion.
Officials in the war-ravaged nation have spent most of their time fighting each other instead of a growing Islamic insurgency that Western officials fear is linked to al Qaida.
The feuding came to a head last week when the Somali president unilaterally dismissed Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein and appointed a new one, Mohamed Mohamud Guled. The country’s parliament refused to approve the move.
The dispute left unclear which prime minister was in charge
“I have resigned for the common interest of the people and to end the infighting among the government,” Mr Guled said. “I want the government to remain in power and differences among its leaders to be sorted out.”
The split has weakened the UN-backed administration as the Islamic insurgency has been gaining strength. The Islamists now control most of southern and central Somalia and Ethiopian troops supporting the government are due to leave by the end of the year.
Government forces now only control pockets of the capital of Mogadishu and the parliamentary seat of Baidoa. The UN has ruled out sending a peacekeeping force, saying there is no peace to keep, and a contingent of African Union peacekeepers is limited to guarding the capital’s port, airport and main government buildings.
Thousands of civilians have been killed in the fighting last year alone and millions are dependent on aid.
The United States worries that Somalia could be a terrorist breeding ground, and accuses the most powerful Islamic faction, al-Shabab, of harbouring the al-Qaida-linked terrorists who blew up the US embassies in Kenya and Tanzania in 1998.
The Horn of Africa nation has not had a functioning government since 1991.