|Mohamed was appointed after the previous PM resigned following a row with Somalia’s president [AFP]|
Somalia’s parliament has approved the appointment of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as the new prime minister, after a much delayed vote.
President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed’s October 14 appointment of Mohamed was approved on Sunday by 297 of the 392 members of parliament.
Mohamed replaces Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, who resigned on September 21 following a long-running feud with Ahmed.
Ahmed has tried to reassert his authority over a brittle administration and a disillusioned nation that has suffered years of war.
“My first priority is security, and performing my duties for the Somali people,” Mohamed told the Reuters news agency.
“We have to deal with the insurgents who are behind the meaningless bloodshed in Somalia, either by fighting them or by reconciling with them, if they are ready for that,” said the 48-year-old Mohamed, a Somali-American who was formerly a diplomat at the Somali embassy in Washington DC.
The vote puts an end to a bitter dispute between Ahmed and Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, the parliament speaker and the second most powerful politician in Somalia.
Although the disagreement was ostensibly over whether the vote should be a secret ballot or a show of hands as desired by the president, it was said that there was really a power struggle play between the two politicians and the blocs that they represent.
According to analysts, Aden has indirect support from neighbouring Ethiopia while Ahmed has the backing of religious groups within Somalia. The two are said to be battling for influence within cabinet.
Mohamed will be asked to name a cabinet within one month.
Mark Bowden, a UN official with oversight of Somalia, said Mohamed’s cabinet is expected to be smaller than the bloated team that Sharmarke presided over.
Among officials in Sharmarke’s cabinet was a minister of tourism, even though the violence-ridden country sees only a handful of tourists each year.
Afyare Abdi Elmi, a political science professor at Qatar University, said that he hoped Mohamed’s background in the Somali diaspora and his relatively young age would help re-energise the government by offering a fresh perspective.
“He stands a very good chance to have a positive impact. He is not carrying any political baggage,” Elmi said.