News / Africa

Somali Prime Minister Resigns

The prime minister of Somalia's Transitional Federal Government has resigned, bringing an end to months of dispute that has further weakened the U.N.-backed administration in Mogadishu.

Differences with president

Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke said he was stepping down from office because he was unable to work out the differences he had with President Sharif Sheik Ahmed. Mr. Sharmarke said he made the decision to resign after considering the political turmoil and growing insecurity caused by their dispute.

President Sharif called Mr. Sharmarke's decision "courageous," and promised to nominate a new prime minister in the coming days.

Setbak for UN

The resignation is a setback for the United Nations, which had sponsored the 2008 power-sharing deal in Djibouti that brought together secular members of the government and an Islamist opposition group led by Sharif Sheik Ahmed. The international community had hoped that President Sharif and Prime Minister Sharmarke could create a plan to defeat a militant Islamist insurgency and lift the country out of nearly two decades of war.

But the two leaders quickly became embroiled in personal quarrels that hampered their ability to carry out their duties. The latest dispute flared in early August when President Sharif pushed for a delay in the ratification of the country's draft constitution against the advice of the prime minister.

Critics of the government say the only group in Somalia that has benefited from the political bickering is al-Shabab, an al-Qaida-linked group that is battling the government and African Union peacekeepers for control of Mogadishu. It also has ambitions to unite the Horn of Africa under a radical Islamic banner.

Militant attacks

In recent weeks, al-Shabab militants have doubled their effort to overthrow the government. The group has claimed responsibility for suicide attacks in the capital that killed dozens of people, including parliament members and several peacekeepers.

On Monday, a Somali police spokesman told reporters that a man had tried to carry out a suicide attack inside the presidential palace.

The police spokesman said the bomber tried to jump onto an African Union vehicle as a convoy of peacekeepers drove through the palace gates. When African Union troops opened fire, the man threw a grenade at the peacekeepers and detonated his explosives vest.

The spokesman said the bomber was a former security guard at the Interior Ministry, who recently defected to al-Shabab.

But another Islamist insurgent group, Hizbul Islam, says it was behind Monday's attack.

Hizbul Islam leader in Mogadishu, Abdi Nassir Abu Hashim, says one of its members, Ali Abdullah Kheireh, also known as Dalha, carried out – in Abu Hashim's words – the "successful mission."

Hizbul Islam formed in early 2009 to oppose the Transitional Federal Government and had a brief alliance with al-Shabab. Hizbul Islam leaders were considered more nationalist than religious zealots, so the international community privately urged President Sharif to reach out to Hizbul Islam's top cleric, Hassan Dahir Aweys. The two men were leaders of the Islamic Courts Union, which ruled Somalia in 2006 before it was ousted by Ethiopia's military.

But talks with Aweys broke down. Hizbul Islam subsequently split into pro and anti-al-Shabab factions.

Somali sources tell VOA that in recent months, many Hizbul Islam fighters in regions such as Lower Shabelle and Hiran have joined al-Shabab, strengthening the extremist group's hold on Somalia.

You May Like

Lesotho Faces New Round of Violence, Political Crisis

Brutal killing of military officer has sent former leaders back into S. Africa where they're watching anxiously as regional officials head in to try to restore peace More

Video VOA EXCLUSIVE: US Diplomat Expects Adoption of Bosnian Massacre Anniversary Resolution

Samantha Power says there's broad consensus about killings in Bosnia's war, but Russia calls resolution 'divisive,' backs countermeasure at UN More

UN Report Exposes Widespread Boko Haram Atrocities

Damning report graphically details pattern of vicious, widespread atrocities committed by Islamist militants More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prisoni
X
Heather Murdock
July 01, 2015 8:59 PM
As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video Family of American Marine Calls for Release From Iranian Prison

As the crowd of journalists covering the Iran talks swells, so too do the opportunities for media coverage.  Hoping to catch the attention of high-level diplomats, the family of American-Iranian marine Amir Hekmati is in Vienna, pleading for his release from an Iranian prison after nearly 4 years.  VOA’s Heather Murdock reports from Vienna.
Video

Video UK Holds Terror Drill as MPs Mull Tunisia Response

After pledging a tough response to last Friday’s terror attack in Tunisia, which came just days before the 10th anniversary of the bomb attacks on London’s transport network, British security services are shifting their focus to overseas counter-terror operations. VOA's Henry Ridgwell has more.
Video

Video Obama on Cuba: This is What Change Looks Like

President Barack Obama says the United States will soon reopen its embassy in Cuba for the first time since 1961, ending a half-century of isolation. VOA White House correspondent Luis Ramirez reports.
Video

Video Hate Groups Spread Influence Via Internet

Hate groups of various kinds are using the Internet for propaganda and recruitment, and a Jewish human rights organization that monitors these groups, the Simon Wiesenthal Center, says their influence is growing. The messages are different, but the calls to hatred or violence are similar. VOA's Mike O’Sullivan reports.
Video

Video US Silica Sand Mining Surge Worries Illinois Residents, Businesses

Increased domestic U.S. oil and gas production, thanks to advances known as “fracking,” has created a boom for other industries supporting that extraction. Demand for silica sand, used in fracking, could triple over the next five years. In the Midwest state of Illinois, people living near the mines are worried about how increased silica sand mining will affect their businesses and their health. VOA’s Kane Farabaugh has more in this first of a series of reports.
Video

Video Blind Somali Journalist Defies Odds in Mogadishu

Despite improving security in the last few years, Somalia remains one of the most dangerous countries to be a journalist – even more so for someone who cannot see. Abdulaziz Billow has the story of journalist Abdifatah Hassan Kalgacal, who has been reporting from the Somali capital for the last decade despite being blind.
Video

Video Texas Defies Same-Sex Marriage Ruling

Texas state officials have criticized the US Supreme Court decision giving same-sex couples the right to marry nationwide. The attorney general of Texas says last week's decision did not overrule constitutional "rights of religious liberty," and therefore officials performing wedding services can refuse to perform them for same-sex couples if it is against their religious beliefs. Zlatica Hoke reports on the controversy.
Video

Video Rabbi Hits Road to Heal Jewish-Muslim Relations in France

France is on high alert after last week's terrorist attack near the city Lyon, just six months after deadly Paris shootings. The attack have added new tensions to relations between French Jews and Muslims. France’s Jewish and Muslim communities also share a common heritage, though, and as far as one French rabbi is concerned, they are destined to be friends. From the Paris suburb of La Courneuve, Lisa Bryant reports about Rabbi Michel Serfaty and his friendship bus.
Video

Video Saudi Leaks Expose ‘Checkbook Diplomacy’ In Battle With Iran

Saudi Arabia’s willingness to wield its oil money on the global diplomatic stage appears to have been laid bare, after the website WikiLeaks published tens of thousands of leaked cables from Riyadh’s Ministry of Foreign Affairs. VOA's Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video Nubians in Kenya Face Land Challenges

East Africa's ethnic Nubians have a rich cultural history that dates back thousands of years, but in Kenya they are facing hardships, including the loss of lands they have lived on for generations. They say the government has reneged on its pledge to award them title deeds for the plots. VOA's Lenny Ruvaga reports.
Video

Video Military Experts Question New Russian Tank Capabilities

Russia has been showing off its new tank design – the Armata T-14. Designers claim it is 20 years ahead of current Western designs - and driving it feels like playing a computer game. But military analysts question those assertions, and warn the cost could be too heavy a burden for Russia’s struggling economy. Henry Ridgwell reports.
Video

Video In Kenya, Police Said to Shoot First, Ask Questions Later

An organization that documents torture and extrajudicial killings says Kenyan police were responsible for 1,252 shooting deaths in five cities, including Nairobi, between 2009 and 2014, representing 67 percent of all gun deaths in the areas reviewed. Gabe Joselow has more from Nairobi.

VOA Blogs