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A New Start In Somalia

Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf has resigned as President of Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government. In his address to Parliament, Yusuf emphasized his continued support for the political process, but conceded that he had been unable to improve security and stability during his 4-year tenure.

Yusuf’s resignation marks the end of a more than 30-year political career. But in closing one chapter of Somalia’s history, it also can be seen as the opening of another.

The challenges facing Somalia -- continued attacks from violent extremists, a humanitarian crisis affecting much of the population, and pirate bands raiding cargo ships off the nation’s coast -- are daunting ones, and were only further complicated by the recurrent disputes and power-sharing struggles among the Somali leadership.

The United States acknowledges Mr. Yusuf’s efforts to seek greater stability for his country and respects his decision to resign. His commitment to continue supporting the Djibouti peace process is another of his important contributions.

In accordance with Article 45 of the Transitional Federal Charter, the Somali Parliament should act expeditiously to select a new president to succeed Mr. Yusuf. The Prime Minister, Mr. Nur Hassan Hussein, and the leaders of the Alliance for the Re-Liberation of Somalia should intensify efforts to achieve a government of national unity and bolster security by forming a joint security force. The U.S. will support such an effort, and provide $5 million to help underwrite it.

Further help is needed from the international community too, for at this point Somalia cannot do this all alone. The Somali crisis is a regional concern, and the African Union Mission there should be strengthened. A United Nations peacekeeping force should be deployed as well.