Somalia’s president has appointed a new prime minister – the second prime minister the horn of Africa country has had in 14 months.
Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed was named prime minister in a press conference held on Thursday at Villa Somalia – the heavily guarded presidential palace in the Somali capital, Mogadishu.
“After a long consultations, I have taken the decision to name Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed as prime minister,” the president told reporters in Mogadishu. “He deserves to take up the responsibility… I hope that parliament endorses his nomination.”
Ahmed’s appointment comes after the previous Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, lost a vote of no-confidence in the Somali parliament last week following disagreement with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud over cabinet appointments.
Ahmed, a Canadian citizen, is a newcomer to politics and was overlooked for the post last time around. An economist with a degree from the University of Ottawa, Ahmed worked for the Islamic Development Bank until his appointment. He has also worked for the eastern and southern African regional trading bloc COMESA.
Ahmed beat out politicians Hussein Halane, a former finance minister and Abdiwali Elmi Gonjeeh, an economist with a PhD from Nairobi University and a one time deputy prime minister and acting prime minister.
President Mohamud hopes the appointment of Ahmed will bring weeks of political uncertainties to an end and re-energise the fight against the al-Qaeda-linked armed rebel group, al-Shabab, which still controls significant parts of the country.
Ahmed has 30 days to appoint a new cabinet, which will have to be approved by parliament.
Previous Somali governments have been plagued by infighting between presidents and prime ministers. Ahmed is the sixth prime minister the war-torn east African country has had in six years.
Somalia’s weak, UN-backed government – which sits in place in large part because of the security provided by African Union troops – controls only small parts of the country and continues to struggle to provide security and battle corruption.
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