Somali parliament approves new PM

February 14, 2009

Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke

MOGADISHU, Feb. 14 (Xinhua) — The Somali parliament Saturday overwhelmingly endorsed the newly-nominated Somali Prime Minster Omar Abdirashid Ali Shermarke, reports reaching here said.

Somali parliament speaker said that 414 lawmakers of the enlarged Somali legislative assembly meeting in neighboring Djibouti voted in favour of the Premier, nine opposed his nomination while two abstained.

Speaking after the vote, the new Somali Prime Minister said he will work to carry on the peace process and continue the dialogue with armed factions opposed to the Somali government.

Shermarke pledged to help the return of the displaced people of Mogadishu and facilitate the humanitarian assistance to those affected by the violence in the restive Somali capital. The new Prime Minister said he will form a”government of technocrats” within days so that it can “face the challenges that lie ahead”.

The Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who briefly spoke to the Somali parliament, said that he expects the new Prime Minister to form a National Unity Government which he said is transparent, calling on the legislators, who are made up of former opposition members and government lawmakers, to work with unity.

As a US-educated son of a late 1960s Somali President Shermarke worked for the UN for a time and was nominated as the Somali ambassador for the US by the Somali government led by the former Somali leader Abdulahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Sharmarke will need to form a government acceptable to most of Somalia’s clans who want to see represented in any Somali government and to be able to make peace with the numerous armed cross-clan factions opposed to the peace process in Djibouti.

The much-awaited National Unity Government will have to relocate to Mogadishu where it faces oppositions from the likes ofthe hard-line Islamist group of Al-Shabaab which is bent on unseating it.