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Somali Parliament Speaker Rejects Ouster Effort

United Nations Special Representative for Somalia Augustine P. Mahiga (R) meets with Somalia parliament speaker, Sharif Hassan Sheik Adan (L) and president Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed (C) at Mogadishu's presidential palace in Mogadishu, Somalia, October 2010

The speaker of Somalia's parliament has rejected an effort to oust him from power, in the war-torn country's latest political crisis.

Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Adan spoke to VOA's Somali Service a day after fistfights broke out in parliament between his opponents and supporters. Adan said Thursday that the vote had no legitimacy because he is out of the country, in Italy. He also said the number of votes against him was much lower than reported.

On Tuesday, lawmakers opposed to Adan voted to remove him as speaker, by a reported tally of 280 to 3.

Somalia's transitional government has been plagued by years of infighting that have held back efforts to stabilize the country, where the government is fighting al-Qaida-linked militants.

Adan's opponents complain he has refused to hold debates on a roadmap for Somalia's political future and a new constitution. The government's mandate runs out next August.

Wednesday's melee in parliament erupted as Adan's opponents attempted to elect a new speaker. Adan said he is heading back to Mogadishu to deal with the crisis.