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Three Somali ministers quit transitional government

MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Three Somali ministers quit on Tuesday, and one, a defense minister, said he was stepping down because the Transitional Federal Government had failed to fulfill its pledge to restore order.

The country has had no effective central government for 19 years and while President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed’s administration has the support of the United Nations, he faces a stubborn insurgency from the armed Islamist groups al Shabaab and Hizbul Islam.

State defense minister Sheikh Yusuf Mohammad Siad said the status quo could not continue because the government had failed to deliver on its promises.

“Everyone has to evaluate himself before others judge his failure, and that is what I did before resigning. I realized that my government cannot do its job,” he told Reuters.

“We cannot achieve security, therefore, there is no need to stay in office.”

Higher Education Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar and the state minister for the Presidency Hassan Moalim Mohamud also resigned.

Omaar and Moalim, both British Somalis, are in London, while the defense minister is in Mogadishu, officials said.

“The minister for higher education and the state minister for the presidency have so far resigned -- they have taken their personal decision,” Sheikh Abdirizak Qeylow, the Information Ministry spokesman, told Reuters.

Analysts say the resignations threaten the existence of an already weak government that controls little more than a few blocks of the capital.

“These are heavyweight ministers, and their resignation will mount pressure on the prime minister, possibly forcing him to resign or lose confidence in the parliament,” Afyare Abdi Elmi, a Somali political science professor at Qatar University, told Reuters.

Additional reporting and writing by Abdiaziz Hassan; editing by George Obulutsa and Andrew Roche