Feuds `crippled` Somali government: UN envoy

Last Updated: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 18:24

Nairobi: The UN special envoy for Somalia
said on Wednesday that simmering feuds had "crippled" the country`s
government and appealed for unity a day after Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke quit.

Sharmarke stepped down yesterday following a
protracted wrangle with President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed which
prompted the UN envoy, representatives from the African Union
and a sub-regional bloc to call for consensus.
The diplomat, Augustine Mahiga, said Sharmake`s exit
"is yet another manifestation of the serious disputes" which
has rattled the Horn of Africa country`s transitional
institutions.

"The international community and the Somali people are
looking to their leaders for unity, not recurrent political
crises and there should be no excuses for stalling the peace
process in Somalia.

"The Somali leadership must remain united and focused
on its work," Mahiga said.

He said he hoped the institutions on which the fragile
administration is based "will now put an end to the internal
divisions which have crippled the TFG`s (Transitional Federal
Government) ability to carry out its essential tasks."

Sharmake`s resignation came after weeks of intense
attacks by hardline Shebab rebels bent on toppling the
government, hanging by a lifeline in Mogadishu provided by a
7,200-strong African Union force.
Sharif had blamed the prime minister and his
government for failing to root out the Shebab, an extremist
militia which controls most of the country and has been
closing in on the administration`s Mogadishu quarters.

The two leaders were also at odds over a new
constitution to replace the interim charter when the TFG`s
mandate comes to an end next year.

Sharif reportedly wanted the constitution be submitted
to a popular referendum but Sharmarke said the security
situation does not allow for a credible ballot and the
document should be scrutinised by parliament.

The prime minister told reporters in Mogadishu he quit
because he was "unable to work" with the president.

"There is less than a year to go until the end of the
transitional period in August 2011 and there is a huge amount
of work to be completed," said Mahiga.

"Once again, I call on all those who support peace and
security to demonstrate that they can work together in a
cohesive manner."

Sharmarke, 50, was endorsed as prime minister in
February 2009, a month after Sharif -- a former Islamist
movement leader -- was elected president. The two were seen as
Somalia`s best chance for peace after 20 years of conflict.

PTI



First Published: Wednesday, September 22, 2010 - 18:24

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