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Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Gedi Resigns: Will it be Better or Worse?

NAIROBI, Oct 30 (Reuters) - The United Nations welcomed on Tuesday the peaceful conclusion of a long-running feud between the Somali government's two most powerful men, which ended with Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi's resignation this week.

But analysts and diplomats warned that President Abdullahi Yusuf would have to please the Hawiye clan, from which Gedi hails, if he wanted to boost unity behind the government and cool an insurgency in Mogadishu.

Gedi's political and personal differences with Yusuf had frustrated Western backers and split the administration as it faced the raging insurgency this year.

The premier stepped down on Monday in a speech to parliament and was temporarily replaced by his deputy, Salim Aliyow Ibrow, while Yusuf seeks a new prime minister within a month.

With no clear candidate, analysts are split as to whether the resignation will help unify the interim government -- the 14th attempt at restoring central rule to Somalia since 1991 -- or merely herald a new round of wrangling.

The U.N. special envoy to Somalia, Ahmedou Ould Abdallah, urged officials to continue settling differences in accordance with the charter under which the government was set up in late 2004 in neighbouring Kenya.

He "welcomes the peaceful conclusion of the crisis within the Transitional Federal Government" and "particularly acknowledges the conciliatory tone and spirit of the statements issued by both" men, a statement from his Nairobi office said.

"He calls on the TFG to continue to seek peaceful solutions to its internal differences," it added.
Somali parliamentarians said Gedi had paid the price of failing to press ahead with key matters like creating a federal state and writing a new constitution.

"We hope the upcoming premier will succeed in all the work failed by his predecessor," said one, Ibrahim Isak Yarow.


Some diplomats who follow Somalia said they feared Yusuf might again make the mistake of not assenting to the demands of Mogadishu's powerful Hawiye clan, one of Somalia's biggest.

Although a Hawiye, Gedi was never backed by Hawiye outside his sub-clan because he was not their choice for the clan's top job in government.

Yusuf comes from the rival Darod clan.

"I think you can be very sure it will be worse. For now you can forget about sensible changes. It will never happen," said a Western diplomat who declined to be named.

The diplomat said some maneouvring was afoot to put up Hawiye warlords like Mohamed Qanyare Afrah or current Mogadishu Mayor Mohamed Dheere up for the job.

A Somalia expert from the Hawiye clan with close ties to the government said he expected the clan would get no quarter from Yusuf.

"The Hawiye are now defeated because Yusuf cannot change course. Gedi was at least able to maintain the government. Yusuf is consolidating power and won't give it up," the expert said.
Mogadishu was at last quiet on Tuesday after three days of fighting that have killed up to 20 people. Somali government forces, backed by Ethiopian military allies, have been clashing with rebels since the weekend in the worst fighting for week.

The Rest @ Reuters Africa

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