NAIROBI, Kenya – Somalia’s embattled Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi resigned Monday after weeks of mounting tensions inside the Horn of Africa’s transitional government and a power struggle with the president.

Gedi’s departure could open the door for a political breakthrough among Somalia’s warring clans, but some experts worried it might also lead to an unraveling of the fragile U.N.-recognized government.

A somber Gedi announced his decision before a hastily convened session of parliament Monday in the city of Baidoa. During his three-year tenure, Gedi survived numerous assassination attempts and a no-confidence vote by parliament, where critics have been vowing in recent weeks to unseat him.

“With respect to the situation the country is undergoing, the humanitarian catastrophe facing us and the long-standing deadlock among us, I welcome the resignation,” President Abduallahi Yusuf told lawmakers.

Yusuf, who has clashed repeatedly with Gedi, did not immediately name a replacement. Analysts say much of Somalia’s future is riding on his choice.

Given Somalia’s clan-divided politics, it is widely expected that Yusuf will name someone from Gedi’s same Abgal subclan. The large, influential clan has been one of the government’s most outspoken critics, and it never accepted Gedi, a former veterinarian plucked from relative political obscurity, as its leader.

If Yusuf’s choice is unpopular, it might drive the clan into the arms of Mogadishu’s growing Islamic insurgency.

“This government has not been performing very well in a lot of areas, and we hope breaking this stalemate will enable it to do better,” said one Western diplomat, who was not authorized to speak publicly. “We hope they use this opportunity to reach out to the clans and (opposition groups) and find a prime minister who will have a broader appeal and better reputation for building confidence.”

Among the candidates reportedly under consideration is Mogadishu Mayor Mohammed Dheere, whose harsh tactics in attempting to pacify the capital have come under fire. Yusuf also is considering political outsiders who fled the nation’s violence and now live in the United States or the United Kingdom, according to some close to him.

Yusuf’s candidate also will likely need approval from the Ethiopian government, which exerts considerable influence on Somalia’s government and maintains an estimated 20,000 troops in the country. Gedi spent much of the past week in the Ethiopian capital of Addis Ababa, where Ethiopian officials attempted to mediate the dispute with Yusuf.

Somalia has been without a fully functioning government since the 1991 collapse of the Siad Barre dictatorship. A transitional government, formed in 2004 in Nairobi, seized control of Mogadishu in December with help from Ethiopian troops, ousting the Islamic Courts Union, an alliance of religious leaders. Now Islamic fighters, some of whom the United States accuses of having links to terrorism, have shifted underground, attacking government and Ethiopian troops with roadside bombs, mortars and other guerrilla tactics.

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