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African Union Peace and Security Commissioner Ramtane Lamamra called President Abdullahi Yusuf’s resignation as president of Somalia a necessary act of self-sacrifice. In a telephone interview with VOA’s Peter Heinlein, Lamamra said the Somali leader had become an obstacle to efforts to bring stability to the lawless Horn of Africa nation.

Lamamra said Yusuf’s decision clears the way for actions that could prevent the country from descending into chaos as Ethiopian troops withdraw. It could permit creation of a broader-based government of national unity, as called for in an accord signed in Djibouti in October with moderate Islamists from the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia.

“Yusuf may have come himself to the conclusion that his presence as head of state would not serve the cause of peace and reconciliation in Somalia,” Lamamra said, “and he may have felt he eventually became part of the problem rather than part of the solution…and in political life, individuals have to make sacrifice when it comes to the supreme interests of the country.”

Ethiopia previously announced plans to withdraw more than 3,000 troops supporting the United Nations-backed transitional government. The Ethiopian pullout leaves only a 3,400-strong African Union peacekeeping force, leading to fears that the increasingly weak government would collapse and be replaced by Islamic extremists.

Lamamra says he also expects the United Nations Security Council to act within 48 hours to pledge what he calls ‘a very concrete logistical package’ that would strengthen the A.U. peacekeeping force known as AMISOM. He tells VOA a vote of support from Security Council would encourage greater African troop contributions, in the hope that the force would eventually become a blue-helmeted U.N. force.

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