Noting the decision by Somali's Prime Minister to step down, a top United Nations official today urged that the country's leaders learn to work together to advance peace and stability in the strife-torn nation that has not had a functioning government in over two decades.

Augustine Mahiga, the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, said the resignation of Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke is “yet another manifestation of the serious disputes within the Transitional Federal Institutions (TFIs).”

Former adversaries are participating in an internationally recognized Transitional Federal Government (TFG) in Somalia, in line with the 2008 peace pact brokered in neighbouring Djibouti.

Mr. Mahiga said he hoped that TFIs will now put an end to the internal divisions, which have crippled the TFG's ability to carry out its essential tasks, adding that the Somali leadership must remain united and focused on its work.

“There is less than a year to go until the end of the transitional period in August 2011 and there is a huge amount of work to be completed,” said the Special Representative. “I call on all those who support peace and security to demonstrate that they can work together in a cohesive manner.”

Last week in a briefing to the UN Security Council, Mr. Mahiga outlined some of the tasks that need to be completed before the end of the transition period. These include continuing the initiatives on reconciliation, building civilian and security institutions and the completion of the constitution-making process.

“The international community and the Somali people are looking to their leaders for unity, not recurrent political crises and there should be no excuses for stalling the peace process in Somalia,” he stated today.