August 2, 2006

Four more junior ministers quit Somali govt

BAIDOA (Reuters) - Somalia's government continued to
unravel on Wednesday with the resignation of another four top
officials who cited the administration's reluctance to reach
out to a rival Islamist movement.

The departure of four junior ministers brought to 34 the
number of senior officials to have left the Western-backed but
virtually powerless government in less than a week.

"We have resigned because the prime minister has refused
reconciliation to go on between the government and the Islamic
courts and all the Somalis," said Hirsi Adan Roble, an
assistant minister who quit.

The latest batch of resignations came a day after 12
ministers and assistant ministers also walked out in a move
that may ultimately clear the way for the newly powerful
Islamists to take ministerial posts, analysts and government
sources say.

The Islamists, however, have not indicated whether they are
interested in power-sharing, and some fear they are bent on
taking all of Somalia and imposing hardline sharia law.

Eighteen ministers and other top officials also resigned
last Thursday from their posts in Baidoa, the provincial seat
of the interim government set up in 2004 in the 14th attempt to
restore central rule to Somalia since 1991.

The resignations leave Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi
looking increasingly vulnerable, although he did survive a no
confidence vote in parliament at the weekend.

He has come under increasing pressure from opponents who
have criticized his "incompetent" performance and argued his
removal was necessary to create a post for the Islamists, who
took Mogadishu from warlords in early June.