Middle East

Somalia’s prime minister says he won’t quit office

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s prime minister said Tuesday that he would not resign despite an agreement calling for his ouster to allow for a transitional government.

Prime Minister Mohammad Abdullahi Mohammad said at a news conference that he is staying in office out of respect for an outpouring of support by Somalis who are opposed to his removal. A recent U.N.-backed deal called for Mohammad to resign within a month to pave the way for the formation of a new government. Hundreds in Mogadishu protested his resignation.

“Considering people’s will and their support for my government I will not resign,” said Mohammad. “I will resign only when the Parliament fires me from my position.”

Hundreds of people, including government soldiers, have taken to Mogadishu’s streets to protest the deal signed by the country’s bickering president and Parliament speaker.

At least two people, a soldier and a teenager, died during protests Friday.

The protesters have instead called for President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmad and Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden – who cut the deal last week in Uganda – to resign.

The international community has been pressuring Ahmad and Aden to reach agreement before the fragile government’s term expires in August. The U.N. Security Council warned last month that the leaders risk losing financial support if they fail to end their bickering.

The two leaders have been locked for months in a dispute over what to do when the government’s term expires. Ahmad asked for an extra year in power because he said elections were distractions as the country was in a state of war with Islamist insurgents. Aden insisted on following the country’s interim charter calling for presidential and speaker elections before Aug. 20.

But the leader’s differences dissipated last week when they agreed on extending the government’s term by a year and postpone elections until next year.

 
A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Daily Star on June 15, 2011, on page 9.

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