Somalia parliament approves new PM

2011-06-28 19:14

Mogadishu - Somali legislators have approved the appointment of Adiweli Mohamed Ali as prime minister, their speaker said on Thursday, and the new government's main goal will be quashing an Islamist insurgency.

Ali was named to the post last Thursday by President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed. Like his predecessor, Ali comes from the Somali diaspora. Before joining Somalia's transitional government he was a professor of economics in the United States.

He was sworn in front of the parliament after the 337-2 vote with two abstentions.

"The new PM has been approved by the parliament and so he is expected to appoint his cabinet ministers as soon as possible," parliament speaker Sherif Hassan Sheikh Aden told reporters.

Somalia has been mired in violence and awash with weapons since the overthrow of a dictator in 1991, and the weak Western-backed government controls only parts of the capital.

Western security agencies warn that the lawless Horn of Africa nation is a fertile breeding ground for Islamist militants, while the chaos on land has allowed piracy to flourish off its shores.

Ahmed's administration is propped up by African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, but al Shabaab rebels, who claim links with al Qaeda, control large areas of the capital Mogadishu and much of south and central Somalia.

Former Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was forced out by a deal struck earlier this month in Kampala between the president and speaker of parliament that extended the beleaguered administration's mandate by 12 months.

The Kampala agreement ended persistent wrangling between Ahmed and Aden that had angered international donors, who are keen to see an acceleration in the pace of political reform and military gains against the al Shabaab.

Somalia's latest administration had been due to dissolve in August with Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel leader, and Aden, who covets the top job, at loggerheads over what should happen then.