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Somali President Hospitalized


Somalia President Abdullahi Yusuf has been admitted to a hospital in Nairobi. As Derek Kilner reports for VOA, Somali government spokesmen have denied reports the president's condition is serious.

News reports in Nairobi described President Yusuf's condition as serious, but government officials now say the president is merely having a routine checkup.

Mohamed Abdurizak is an advisor to President Yusuf who traveled with him to Nairobi.

He says, President Yusuf is in Nairobi on a regularly-scheduled visit and that rumors about his condition emerged because he arrived earlier in the day than planned.

Abdurizak says the president missed his annual check-up in November, due to political events in Somalia, and so is having the checkup now. He will travel to London for tests on Wednesday.

Yusuf had been scheduled to meet with U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice in the Ethiopian capital, Addis Ababa. It is unclear whether Yusuf will be able to attend a meeting of European Union and African Union leaders later this week in Lisbon, Portugal.

There has long been speculation about the health of the president, who had a liver transplant in the 1990s.

Yusuf's government is facing increased turmoil after four members of Somalia's Cabinet resigned on Monday. The ministers had been appointed only a day earlier by new Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

The ministers complained that their Rahanwein clan was not adequately represented in the new government assembled by the prime minister, who is better known as Nur Adde.

Somalia's transitional government was established in 2004 with a provision known as the "4.5 formula", giving equal representation to the four largest clans - including the Rahanwein - and a smaller share to be divided among the remaining clans.

The former Cabinet members include National Security Minister Hassan Mohamed Nur Shatigadud, the state minister of reconciliation affairs, the state minister of planning, and the deputy minister of trade.

President Yussuf named Nur Adde as Prime Minister in November. Many Western officials had expressed optimism about the appointment of Nur Adde, who was formerly secretary-general of the Somali Red Crescent Society.

The top U.N. humanitarian official, John Holmes, completed a four-day trip to Somalia on Monday. He called the humanitarian situation in the country "very serious."

According to the United Nations, more than one million people have been displaced by fighting in the country, constituting the worst humanitarian crisis in Africa.

Ethiopian troops backing the Somali government gained control of Mogadishu from Islamist insurgents in January, but have spent the past year battling what has developed into an Iraq-style insurgency.

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