Some observers fear the power vacuum could herald more fighting while others say it will provide the nation of nine million people an opportunity for peace and usher in a new era for the country.

Power vacuum

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991 [AFP]
Ethiopians were ordered to force opposition fighters out of Mogadishu, the Somali capital, at the request of Somalia's UN-backed government in 2006.

But the troops faced several attacks by al-Shabab, the former military wing of the deposed Islamic Courts Union (ICU) that ruled Somalia before the Ethiopian-led invasion in 2007.

Power-sharing talks have been continuing in Djibouti between the government and other groups including the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS).

They are trying to agree on the formation of an expanded parliament - from 275 seats to 550 - to include the opposition, and how to select a new president.

Somali legislators are expected to elect a new president on Monday following the resignation last month of Abdullahi Yusuf as president.

Somalia has not had an effective national government since 1991.