[dehai-news] (Reuters) What happens now Somali's president has resigned?


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From: Er-News (er_news@dehai.org)
Date: Mon Dec 29 2008 - 11:12:55 EST


Q+A-What happens now Somali's president has resigned?
Mon 29 Dec 2008, 14:16 GMT

By David Clarke

NAIROBI, Dec 29 (Reuters) - Somalia's President Abdullahi Yusuf
resigned on Monday after four years in power and returned to his
homeland in the semi-autonomous Puntland region.

  Here are some questions and answers as to what happens next:

WHY DID YUSUF GO?

* Yusuf had been blamed for hindering a U.N.-hosted peace process. He
came under increasing pressure from Western nations and East African
leaders to get the interim government working. A regional bloc
spearheading the talks imposed sanctions on Yusuf this month for
being an obstacle to peace.

* Yusuf had also become increasingly unpopular with Ethiopia, which
sent troops to Somalia two years ago to prop up the Western-backed
transition government. Addis Ababa was reportedly frustrated with a
lack of political progress at a time its own troops are battling a
growing Islamist insurgency.

* The president sacked Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein earlier this
month after a long-running rift. Somalia's parliament and the
international community backed Hussein, further isolating the
president at home and abroad.

WHAT'S HAPPENS NOW POLITICALLY?

* Yusuf is back in Puntland. "I am now back and will stay with my
people," he said upon arrival.

* According to the constitution, parliament speaker Sheikh Aden
Madobe takes over for 30 days while elections are held. Madobe said
he would remain only until a president is elected.

* Some diplomats say it might be better to keep the speaker longer
and speed up the creation of a more inclusive parliament, with
Islamist groups that have so far snubbed the peace process. They fear
that electing a president before a broader coalition is in place
could exacerbate existing feuds.

* Prime Minister Hussein wants to bring in moderate Islamists, and
more hardline elements if they commit to peace. Hussein hopes this
will marginalise what he believes is a rump of Islamist fighters who
are unlikely ever to commit.

* East African nations and the international community back power-
sharing as the best way to keep a functioning government, while
adapting to the reality of Islamist power on the ground.

* Madobe said on Monday the government was open to talks with any
opposition group. The umbrella opposition Alliance for the Re-
Liberation of Somalia (ARS) is divided into a pro-peace group known
as ARS-Djibouti and a hardline wing ARS-Eritrea.

* Analysts and diplomats in the region say encouraging ARS-Eritrea to
come on board is important for stability in Somalia because the
government wields little power outside the capital and the seat of
parliament, Baidoa.

* The African Union says it is talking with all parties to keep peace
talks on track and would encourage ARS-Eritrea to join ARS-Djibouti
in the capital Mogadishu as the politicians put together a new
administration.

WHAT ABOUT THE ISLAMIST INSURGENCY, ETHIOPIAN TROOPS?

* After a two-year insurgency, Islamist fighters control most of
southern and central Somalia and launch near-daily attacks on
government and Ethiopian forces in the capital.

* But the rebels are split. The most militant wing, al Shabaab, which
is on Washington's terrorist list, is urging jihad, or holy war.
Moderate elements in another faction, the Islamic Courts Union, are
leaning towards talks.

* A moderate Islamist group known as Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca has pledged
to oust al Shabaab from Somalia, accusing them of killing religious
leaders and desecrating graves, acts they say are against Islamic
teachings.

* There are daily clashes between the two groups in central Somalia
and Ahlu Sunna Waljamaca seized two towns from al Shabaab over the
weekend.

* The African Union and diplomats in the region say there is growing
opposition to al Shabaab and community leaders have begun condemning
acts of violence by the group.

* While al Shabaab has become a nationalist symbol as it fights the
Ethiopians, some diplomats say the planned withdrawal of Ethiopian
troops could take the sting out of the insurgency.

* "Absolutely key now is that the Ethiopians leave as planned," said
a Western diplomat. "Once they go, the reason for al Shabaab's being
should fall away. The resistance could collapse."

* The risk is that the Islamists and other political camps fail to
end their feuding and the Horn of Africa nations descends into
another chapter of chaos and violence. (Additional reporting by
Mohamed Ahmed in Baidoa, Editing by Sami Aboudi)

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