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Somali President May Quit, Advisers Say

"Let us be optimistic" Hussein said in an interview Tuesday, explaining that the next step is to sell the Djibouti agreement at the grass-roots level. "If parents are mobilized, if job opportunities are created, it could mean a change of direction" for young people, he said. "I'm trying to focus on young people who are the backbone of the Shabab."

If Yusuf resigns, the speaker of parliament would become president until the parliament appoints a new leader. Some observers predict that Sharif Ahmed, a relatively moderate Islamist who led the Islamic courts movement ousted by the Ethiopians two years ago, might be elected president, with Hussein -- a widely respected humanitarian -- as prime minister. Both men are Hawiye.

Sharif recently returned to Mogadishu, where he has been meeting with clan elders and giving speeches on local radio in an effort to build the sort of support Hussein described.

But many worry that the imminent withdrawal of Ethiopian forces will leave a security vacuum that the Shabab will rush to fill.

Others predict that if Yusuf goes, his clan will go with him, retreating to the northern region of Puntland, which may declare independence. There is also the fear that Yusuf's Darod supporters will join the Shabab and fight a new government.

Hassan, the former presidential adviser, said his concern is that the new government will not be an inclusive one, but a Hawiye one. "Anything that makes peace with the Hawiye people is fine," he said. "But you need a national agreement, not a sub-regional agreement among the Hawiye."

Special correspondent Mohamed Ibrahim contributed to this report.


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