For months, conflict has grown between Somalia’s President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke. Sharmarke, the Canadian-Somali son of a former president, took office in February 2009, shortly after Ethiopian forces left Somalia. Although Sharif Ahmed appointed him, by May of this year the two men were open enemies. At that time Sharmarke resisted Sharif Ahmed’s move to oust him, but only temporarily – Sharmarke will now resign, in a move that further weakens the credibility of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG).
Reuters suggests the move may be a way for Sharif Ahmed to deflect blame for his administration’s failures:
Some Somalia analysts are more skeptical about whether a new prime minister will change the direction of Somali politics.
They say the beleaguered Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel, has been looking for a scapegoat as he tries to reassert his authority over a brittle administration and disillusioned nation.
The BBC says the transition will hurt al Shabab and other rebels who thrived on the TFG’s internal dissension, but I am not sure how much this change will affect the overall struggle for power in Somalia. If I were a Western power supporting Sharif Ahmed’s government, the departure of a prominent figure after so short a time in office would displease and dishearten me. A greater concentration of power with Sharif Ahmed may enhance his ability to maneuver, but if he cannot translate that power into an ability to gain and hold territory, then I do not know what he will really have gained. Having more power over a weak government does not necessarily make that government stronger.