Somali president names new prime minister.

MOGADISHU: Somalia’s president on Saturday appointed a little known businessman as prime minister as his administration sought to rebuild stability after more than two decades of anarchy and war.

“We have named Abdi Farah Shirdon Said as country’s new prime minister after long discussions,” said President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who himself only took office last month after being chosen by parliament in a UN-backed process. “He is the best person for that position, and we expect him to name a new and high quality cabinet very soon,” Mohamud added, as he welcomed his close ally to the post.

Said, from the south-west Gedo region and the Marehan branch of the Darod clan, graduated from Mogadishu university, but has since spent much of the past two decades in the Kenyan capital Nairobi running an import-export business. He is a close friend of the president, who comes from the powerful Hawiye clan, the majority group in Mogadishu. “I am very happy to take up this position, and very soon I will select a new cabinet, that I hope will win the support of the Somali people,” the new prime minister said.

The appointment is one of the first key steps of the new administration, which brought to an end the eight years of transitional rule by the corruption riddled and Western-backed government. Said will select a council of ministers, which will then be submitted to parliament for approval. After years of war, Somalia’s capital Mogadishu has been coming back to life since the al Qaeda-linked Shebab insurgents left frontline fighting positions.

A 17,000-strong African Union force, fighting alongside government forces has in recent months wrested control of a string of Shebab strongholds, including the bastion of Kismayo, a strategic southern port. But the Shebab remain a potent threat, still controlling large rural areas as well as carrying out guerrilla attacks – including suicide bombings – in areas apparently under government control.

Author: Liban Farah

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