Somali parliament approves new prime minister

AP News
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Posted: Jun 28, 2011 9:31 AM
Somali parliament approves new prime minister

Somali lawmakers have overwhelmingly approved the appointment of a new, Harvard-educated prime minister who said Tuesday that he would focus on combating the country's al-Qaida-linked militants who are trying to topple his U.N.-backed, fragile government.

Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden said 437 lawmakers voted for Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, while four rejected his appointment and two abstained from voting.

Ali, who was immediately sworn in after the approval, thanked the members of parliament for their support.

"I will focus on fighting terrorism, and will practice good governance," he said. "We will also give a chance to reconciliation, humanitarian issues."

Somalia's president appointed the Somali-American politician last Thursday to help end bickering between the executive and the legislature that has paralyzed the fragile government for months.

The two branches were locked for months in a dispute over what to do when the government's term expires. President Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed asked for an extra year in power because he said elections were distractions as the country was in a state of war with Islamist insurgents. But Parliamentary Speaker Aden insisted on following the country's interim charter calling for presidential and speaker elections before Aug. 20.

The leaders' differences dissipated on June 9 when they agreed to extend the government's term by a year and postpone elections until next year.

The U.N.-backed deal demanded the removal of Ali's predecessor, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, a popular Somali-American whose efforts to combat corruption and pay government employees regularly won him accolades among the public.

Ali, who previously taught economics at Niagara University in Lewiston, New York, said he would also fight corruption and work on the army's welfare.

Ali has graduate degrees in public administration from Harvard and another in economics from Vanderbilt University.