Somalia’s President Abdullahi Yusuf has told parliament he has resigned – a move which adds to the chaos in the country as Ethiopian troops withdraw. Mr. Yusuf’s resignation follows a power struggle with Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein, who parliament backed after Mr. Yusuf tried to sack him.

som-todayEthiopian soldiers, who support the government, are due to pull out this week, raising fears of a power vacuum. Various Islamist and nationalist groups control most of southern Somalia. The president had clashed in recent months with Mr Nur over attempts to negotiate a peace deal with the Islamist-led armed opposition.

Some diplomats suggest that Mr Yusuf’s resignation might enhance the prospects of a deal with moderate Islamists. BBC Somali service editor Yusuf Garaad says the president’s departure has removed one obstacle to peace but it is unclear what happens next, especially if the government collapses altogether.

Mr Yusuf is reported to have flown out of Baidoa, where parliament is based, to his home region – the semi-autonomous area of Puntland in the north. Speaker of parliament Aden Mohamed Nur becomes acting president until a new leader is named.

Mr Yusuf was chosen by MPs four years ago at the end of a long process that was supposed to bring peace to Somalia, which has not had an effective national government since 1991. But government forces only control parts of the capital, Mogadishu, and the town of Baidoa.



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