Somalia names envoy to US as new prime minister

Somalia names envoy to US as new prime minister

Wed Dec 17, 2014 6:16PM GMT

Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has appointed the Horn of Africa nation’s ambassador to the United States as new prime minister following the ouster of his predecessor earlier this month.

During a ceremony at Villa Somalia presidential compound in Mogadishu on Wednesday afternoon, Mohamud named 54-year-old political heavyweight, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, to the post of premier.

“I’m very happy that I have picked Omar Abdirashid Ali as the new prime minister of the country. I expect him to fulfill his commandments,” the Somali president said.

Mohamud further noted that Somalia is at a critical juncture and needs a new prime minister to lay out an ambitious plan for the country’s political future.

Sharmarke said he would “continue working on the efforts to bring about stability” and “taking the country the way forward to free elections.”

Sharmarke replaces Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed Mohamed, who was voted out of office by parliament 11 days ago due to bitter disagreements with the Somali president over a cabinet reshuffle, and the overthrow of an intelligence chief.

The United Nations, United States and European Union had all expressed concern over the infighting at the Villa Somalia.

Sharmarke served as prime minister in a Western-backed transitional government between 2009 and 2010. He resigned after falling out with then President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

Sharmarke faces an uphill battle to rein in corruption, defeat al-Qaeda-affiliated al-Shabab militants and rebuild war-ravaged Somalia.

United Nations Special Representative for Somalia Nicholas Kay has said that Somalia has “a mighty hill to climb” to review the constitution and then hold a referendum and elections by 2016.

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