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Amid growing international pressure, Somalia's president resigns

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The president of Somalia resigned Monday, in a move that analysts say could help bring stability to the war-ravaged, failed state.

Abdullahi Yusuf, a former warlord, took office amid high hopes in 2004 as the first president of a United Nations-backed transitional government. But during his term he was unable to extend the government's writ much farther than the capital.

Somalia has been without a strong central government since former dictator President Siad Barre was overthrown in 1991, and the area near the capital of Mogadishu has seen fierce fighting between US-backed Ethiopian and Somali government troops, and Islamist fighters.

Mr. Yusuf's weakness was further highlighted this year by the shocking surge in pirate attacks off the Somali coast, which has stirred international outrage.

Reuters reported that Yusuf's departure could help break a "deadlock" at the top of Somalia's government.

Reuters cited analysts as saying Yusuf's departure, combined with the scheduled withdrawal of Ethiopian troops, could help stabilize the country. Yusuf had clashed with his prime minister on several issues, including whether to include moderate Islamists in peace talks (Yusuf opposed doing so).

According to Bloomberg, Yusuf made the announcement of his resignation to the Somali parliament.

Garowe Online, the sister site of Radio Garowe, a community radio station based in northern Somalia, reported that security was "extra tight" in Baidoa. It said the president's resignation was no surprise.

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