Somali PM resigns from split government

The Somali Prime Minister resigned yesterday, paying the price for the government's failure to rein in an Islamist insurgency that has killed thousands of civilians.

Politicians loyal to President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said the departure of Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke would put an end to the internal divisions that have beset the UN-backed Transitional Federal Government and slowed government business to a crawl.

Sheikh Ahmed welcomed Mr Sharmarke's decision to quit and said he would nominate a replacement as soon as possible. Some analysts said the change of leadership would be seen as a propaganda coup by Islamists and would change little as long as the divisions of power between President and Prime Minister were poorly defined.

Thousands of African Union troops have been sent to support the interim administration but militants now control much of the capital, Mogadishu, and huge swathes of the country.