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Somali PM Consults With Ethiopian Leaders in Addis Ababa


Somalia's interim parliament, which was expected to hold a no-confidence vote on Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi's 30-month-old government, is in recess, while Mr. Gedi consults with leaders in Ethiopia. VOA Correspondent Alisha Ryu reports from our East Africa Bureau in Nairobi.

The spokesman for Ethiopia's Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Wahide Beley, tells VOA that Prime Minister Gedi met with Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi after Mr. Gedi arrived in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa on Wednesday.

But the ministry spokesman insists the talks did not focus on the political future of Prime Minister Gedi, who has been accused of corruption and incompetence, and is now battling moves by Somali interim President Abdullahi Yusuf and the president's allies in parliament to oust him.

"This is just consultation with the higher authorities of the Ethiopian government," he said. "They spoke about the current events in Somalia, about the TFG and security. There is nothing special about it."

Both the president and the prime minister are supported by Ethiopia, whose military helped install them in power, routing Somali Islamists nine-and-a-half months ago.

But disputes between the two men have grown bitter in recent months, causing deep divisions within Somalia's internationally recognized but unpopular transitional federal government, also known as the TFG.

Last week, 22 ministers in Mr. Gedi's cabinet said the embattled prime minister should face a no-confidence vote in parliament and bring an end to the political stalemate.

But, despite more than a week of debate, lawmakers at the government's base in the town of Baidoa say there is still no consensus about whether to call a no-confidence vote. Prime Minister Gedi has warned that attempts to oust his government would destroy the TFG and spark another round of civil war in Somalia.

The Somali government is struggling to survive in the capital Mogadishu, where an Iraq-style Islamist-led insurgency and clan tensions have kept the government largely unable to function.

Afyare Elmi, a Somali-born researcher at the University of Alberta in Canada, says he believes that even if a new prime minister and a fresh cabinet are named, this is unlikely to reverse deepening grassroots opposition to the TFG.

"In terms of those opposing, they will go ahead with whatever they were doing, definitely," said Elmi. "There is no political process here. The TFG has always existed on the back of outsiders, particularly the international community and Ethiopian forces. So, domestically, the TFG cannot stand by itself. They have to realize that they are going nowhere with the current [political] process."

The transitional federal government is the 14th attempt by the international community to create a functioning government in Somalia since the country descended into clan warfare in 1991.

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