Somali-American approved as new prime minister

AP News
Posted: Oct 31, 2010 12:29 PM
Somali-American approved as new prime minister

Somalia's parliament on Sunday approved a Somali-American as the country's prime minister, but some are already questioning whether he will be able to make a difference in the war-ravaged country under attack from al-Qaida-linked militants.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, who has taught at a community college in western New York, is now expected to name a Cabinet in the coming weeks.

The Somali government currently controls only a small part of the capital, Mogadishu. It has accomplished little since its inception in 2004 and the country hasn't had a fully functioning government in nearly two decades.

"Somalia is not America," Amina Nur, a mother of seven children, told The Associated Press referring to Mohamed's time spent in the U.S.

"Like many overseas Somalis that came from Western countries after the collapse of the government in 1991 and are now parliamentarians and government officials, he doesn't know the difficult situation of the country and cannot lead an effective Cabinet in the terms of the setting a comprehensive security plan to combat al-Shabab and terrorists," Nur said.

Mohamed was nominated on Oct. 14 by President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed but the vote on the nomination was delayed several times because of a disagreement between the president and the speaker over procedure. The president wanted lawmakers to vote by a show of hands, while the speaker preferred a secret ballot.

Lawmakers voted by a show of hands 297-92 on Sunday in favor of Mohamed, said Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden, speaker of the transitional parliament.

Mohamed worked in the Somali Embassy in Washington from 1985 to 1988, according to the government's website. He has taught conflict resolution and leadership skills at Erie Community College in western New York and has a master's degree in political science from the State University of New York at Buffalo, according to his resume.

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Al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab and allied Islamic militants have been trying for three years to overthrow the government. The militants control much of the capital, Mogadishu, and southern Somalia.

A former governor of one of Somalia's southern regions, Qasim Mohamed Nur, said the new prime minister may succeed where his predecessors have failed because he does not carry any political baggage and is from the country's south, where al-Shabab holds sway.

"I think if he gets support of the Somali people and government officials he would succeed to lead his cabinet on the best way to liberate much of the southern regions from al-Qaida and al-Shabab militias," he said.


Associated Press writer Mohamed Olad Hassan in Mogadishu, Somalia contributed to this report.