Ethiopia has handed over security duties to a Somali force, raising fears that the Horn of Africa country - already fighting an Islamic insurgency and rampant piracy - could collapse into chaos if extremists with alleged al-Qaida links move to seize power.
The Ethiopian pullout after a two-year deployment was widely welcomed by Somalis who had viewed the troops as an occupying force, but the Ethiopians also have provided a measure of stability in a land plagued by extreme poverty and relentless warfare.
Few expect the Somali government to ensure security even with the help of the Islamist faction with which it has agreed to share power. The government controls only pockets of the capital, Mogadishu, and Baidoa, where parliament sits - and has tried to rule without a president for weeks.
The Ethiopian forces were pulling out in stages and gave no exact dates for security reasons.