Hussein's appointment in late November was widely seen as an opportunity for reconciliation in the three years of infighting.

But the cabinet he named on December 2 failed to win parliamentary approval after the five officials quit and the international community complained about the shortage of ministers from outside parliament.

In a move to encourage more experienced technocrats joining the government, a recent constitutional change permits the non-parliamentarians from being appointed.

"The aim of this new formation is to satisfy the expectations of the Somali people and the international community," Abdi Haji Gobdon, Somali government spokesman, told The Associated Press news agency.

Rising violence

About 6,000 civilians have been killed and hundreds of thousands forced to abandon their homes in Somalia during the last year, as the government has struggled with the rising violence.

On Sunday, a leader of an armed group fighting against the government told Reuters news agency that it planned to intensify its offensive against government troops and their Ethiopian allies.
   
Hundreds of thousands of Somalis have been
displaced by the fighting[AFP]
Muktar Ali Robow said al-Shabab had killed nearly 500 Ethiopian soldiers and would fight until foreign troops left the Horn of Africa country.
  
"We are now planning to launch the most enormous attacks on the government and Ethiopian main positions. We will allow no foreign forces in our land," he said.
   
Also known as "Abu Mansoor", Robow was deputy defence secretary of the Islamic Courts Union that controlled Mogadishu and most of south Somalia for six months before being forced out by allied Somali-Ethiopian forces in the New Year.

Al-Shabab is one of many groups that have taken part in staging roadside bombings, grenade attacks and shootings against government and Ethiopian positions.