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Somali Opposition Accuses Transitional Government of Failing to Provide Security

Somali opposition parties are accusing President Abdullahi Yusuf's transitional government of failing in its mandate to maintain law and order and protect the innocent after Islamists recently intensified attacks around the capital, Mogadishu. The opposition also questioned the validity of the government and accused it of lacking cohesion to address what they describe as the serious security concerns of the ordinary Somali. This comes after President Abdullahi Yusuf admitted over the weekend that Islamist insurgents, who now control most of the country, could bring his government down on its knees. From Nairobi, former Somali presidential candidate Ali Abdullahi tells reporter Peter Clottey that the Islamists have been emboldened by the imminent pullout of Ethiopian troops.

"What you have to understand in the Somali political gymnastics is that the resistances have increased their tendencies to push deeply into part of Marka and to some parts of Mogadishu. The main reasons why they are pushing so deeply is because of the friction between the senior members. So the TFG (Transitional Federal Government), presumably, the prime minister, and the president are squabbling over positions of ministers, which is very trivial at this time of nation building because both of them seemed to have failed to see the bigger picture as far as building Somalia back to its feet is concerned," Abdullahi noted.

Meanwhile, President Yusuf also blamed his government's lack of effectiveness partly on disagreements between him and Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein.

He said there seems to be no cohesion between members of the federal government, which Abdullahi claims is adversely affecting the government.

"You know, because of the lack of squabbling between members of the TFG, both sides have their own backers and they do not listen to each other's views, but rather listen to only their backers," he said.

Abdullahi said the government seems to be preoccupied with its own existence.

"The transitional government is worried of two things. One is the time frame remaining, which is less than a year, and the tasks, which are ahead of it. There were declarations of the 13th extraordinary session of the IGAD (The Intergovernmental Authority on Development) assembly of heads of state that was on the 30th of October. They have an eight-point plan, which the TFG is supposed to go through within the period remaining. One is to appoint a cabinet on the basis of previous regulations, establish a joint security committee... and to finalize the drafting of the Somali constitution. They have not been able to achieve most of these," Abdullahi said.

He said the transitional government's problems seem to have been intensified because of lack of funding.

"The current TFG as it is financially crippled, they don't have much funds and they deserve that because funding, which was given to them was usually used for personal stuff. And the tragedy currently is how the international community is going to engage the TFG in the remaining months because the EU (European Union) is worried about the situation on the ground as far as security is concerned," he noted.

Abdullahi said the Islamists insurgents have been strengthened after it was announced that troops from Ethiopia who backed the government would soon be pulling out.

"There is also the issue of the Ethiopians pulling out of Somalia, and this has increased the propensity of the Islamists to think that they can take over power, considering that the TFG is financially and militarily weak as it is today," Abdullahi said.

Abdullahi said the lack of cohesion within the government stems from the failed impeachment proceedings against the prime minister.

"It is presumed to do with the recent impeachment which was almost done on the prime minister, considering that 10 members of parliament resigned and have to wait for parliament to get into the process. And presumably, he could have been impeached if it was not for the Ethiopians, who intervened, and the international community," Abdullahi pointed out.

He said the issue of warlords and the clannish mentality of Somalia accentuated the divisions within the government.