Somalia: Members of Parliament abandon their posts, further crumbling UN-backed interim government

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The interim government of Somalia has been further weakened by the departure of its members of parliament. The lack of sufficient MPs has affected the legal minimum for the UN-backed government to function formally.

The presence of the African Union’s 4,300 troops in Mogadishu is reported to be the only reason why President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s fragile transitional government is still safe. Somalia has gone without an effective government since 1991.

In the last week, an MP was gunned down, a security minister was killed in a suicide blast, and a Mogadishu police chief was killed in battle. These deaths prompted the mass exodus of about 20 legislators from Somalia. About 13 other Somali MPs fled to neighboring Djibouti, while others left for Europe and the United States.

Abdullah Haji Ali, an MP for Somaliland, resigned yesterday (Wednesday, June 24), predicting that parliament was doomed to fail amid the crumbling security situation. Nine other MPs are reportedly on their way out of the government.

Following the emptiness of the house of parliament, the African Union peacekeeping force in Somalia is to establish a radio station in Mogadishu to support the embattled President.

Since May 7, al-Shabab (a group of militant Islamist rebels who control parts of the capital and much of southern Somalia) has been locked in bloody battles with pro-government forces in Mogadishu.

Last week, President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed declared a state of emergency in the country and urged neighboring countries to send troops to help. The Kenyan government is yet to decide whether to intervene in Somalia, while Ethiopia which pulled its troops out of Somalia in January after two years in the country, has said it will not intervene again unless a firm international mandate was issued.

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