Ali Mohamed Gedi has resigned as Prime Minister of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government, the TFG. The resignation follows a power struggle between Gedi and President Abdullahi Yusef. However, as the power struggle continued, so did the insurgency sparked by the presence of Ethiopian troops.
Among those reacting to the resignation is Ken Menkhaus, Somali expert and professor of political science at Davidson College in Davidson, North Carolina.
“This was a long time in coming and what finally prompted the resignation was unquestionably Ethiopian pressure. This was Ethiopia’s game. They were making the decision as to who would stay and who would go in the TFG. They were trying to manage the long running split between President Abdullahi Yusef and Prime Minister Gedi. And in the end I think they came to understand that Gedi had to be replaced,” he says.
Asked whether United States pressure played any role in the resignation, Menkhaus says, “I suspect there was. In Nairobi, the donor community in general has for quite some time reached the conclusion that the primary obstacle to negotiations toward a more inclusive Transitional Federal Government was Gedi himself. And for an obvious reason. Gedi stood an excellent chance of losing his job if power were shared with the opposition.”
Menkhaus says many things must be done before there’s a chance for peace in Somalia, adding it’s not clear that replace Gedi will help.
“The best case scenario is that President Yusef will use this opening in the prime minister’s position to make an offer to a high level person in the opposition. The idea there being that the government would be rendered more inclusive, the Mogadishu-based opposition would be stakeholders in the TFG. And that would then spillover into a reduction in the armed insurgency…in a worst-case scenario, Yusef either won’t or can’t find a suitable opposition figure. He’ll choose instead another person who is seen as part of his narrow coalition or too close to the Ethiopians. And the insurgency will not only continue, but it’ll get worse because now he will have alienated Gedi’s sub-clan in Mogadishu. And they’re likely to join the opposition in that case.
Menkhaus says he believes Ethiopia’s patience with the situation in Somalia has run out, but a quick withdrawal would problematic.