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Somalia Nominates New Prime Minister


Somalia's president has announced the nomination of a new prime minister for the country's embattled transitional government. As Derek Kilner reports from VOA's East Africa bureau in Nairobi, the new prime minister will face the challenge of restoring security to a country wracked by a growing Islamist-led insurgency.

Somali president Abdullahi Yusuf announced the nomination of Nur Hassan Hussein for the post of prime minister. The president made the announcement in the southern town of Baidoa, where the parliament is located.

Mr. Hussein, better known as Nur Adde, has been serving as secretary general of the Somali Red Crescent Society, based in Nairobi, Kenya. He studied law in Somalia and served as a police colonel under the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre.

A senior advisor to President Yusuf, Abdirizak Adam Hassan, tells VOA he is optimistic about the choice of Nur Adde.

"I think he is going to be a good manager," Hassan said. "He is going to be a man of accountability, transparency, and overall good governance."

Western diplomats have expressed hope that with his humanitarian background Nur Adde will be effective in his new role.

Hassan says he believes the main tasks for Nur Adde will be restoring security and building up Somalia's government institutions.

"The major assignment of this prime minister is going to be in my view security," he said. "He has to pacify the country, he has to work towards the stabilization of Somalia. The second priority is going to be executing the mandate of the government - drafting the constitution of the country, the census-taking, the referendum, the restructure of Somalia into federal Somalia, the multi-party system, making free and fair elections at the end of the mandate of the government."

Ethiopian troops backing the Somali government took control of Mogadishu from armed Islamists in January. But since then, remnants of the Islamic Courts Union and other armed groups have been waging an increasingly violent Iraq-style insurgency in the capital, designed to drive out the Ethiopians.

United Nations officials have said in recent days that the humanitarian crisis in Somalia is worse than that in the Darfur region of nearby Sudan. The United Nations estimates more than one million people - 10 percent of the population - has been displaced, including 60 percent of Mogadishu's residents.

The previous Prime Minister, Ali Mohammed Gedi, resigned in late October, the culmination of long-running tensions between Gedi and President Yusuf.

Both Nur Adde and Gedi come from the Abgal sub-clan of the Hawiye, Somalia's largest clan. Analysts say the transitional government will need greater support from the Hawiye in order to succeed.

According to Hassan, Nur Adde will be tasked with assembling a new cabinet, and must then receive a vote of confidence from a majority in parliament. Hassan says he expects the vote to come within two weeks.

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