BAIDOA, Somalia Oct 25 (Garowe Online) -
Somalia's interim parliament that is attempting to resolve a row between President Abdullahi Yusuf and Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Gedi officially split in two camps Thursday after pro-Gedi lawmakers declared a new political party.
Some 126 members of parliament convened at Hotel Bakiin in Baidoa, a town 250km northwest of Mogadishu that has served as parliament's home since early 2006.
Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail, the Somali constitution and federal affairs minister, told reporters at the conclusion of the Hotel Bakiin meeting that 126 MPs signed an 11-point accord, including support for declarations signed in August at the conclusion of the clan-based national reconciliation conference.
"We [lawmakers] were originally appointed in a clan-based manner, but after three years of working together we allied ourselves on principles," Sheikh Ismail said.
The Somali constitution minister, a close Gedi ally who is also a deputy prime minister, said the 126 MPs formed a new political party known as the United Somali Parliamentarians, a group that stands to "protect the constitution and the government."
Prominent USP party figures at today's meeting included Deputy Defense Minister Salad Ali Jeele, Reconciliation Minister Mohamed Abdi Mareye, and lawmakers Mohamed Qanyare and Muse Sudi Yalahow, both former Mogadishu warlords.
Prime Minister Gedi flew to Ethiopia yesterday, forcing parliament to postpone a vote of confidence debate on his government for the second time in a week. [
President Yusuf wants Gedi to face the confidence vote, which the president thinks his prime minister will lose. But many see the declaration of the new USP party as a clear sign that Prime Minister Gedi enjoys sizeable support in parliament.
The personal power struggle between the two Somali leaders has severely impacted the functioning capacity of a fragile government that, despite the backing of foreign troops, has been largely unable to control events on the ground, especially in Mogadishu.
Ethiopia backs both Yusuf and Gedi as two of its main allies in Somalia. Ethiopian troops helped install the transitional government in Mogadishu last January, but the government struggles to function in the capital in the face of relentless insurgent attacks.
Source: Garowe Online