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Somali Parliament Endorses New Prime Minister


The Somali parliament endorsed President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's choice for prime minister by an overwhelming margin Saturday.

Meeting in neighboring Djibouti for security reasons, the parliament voted 414 to nine in favor of the appointment of Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.

The new prime was born in Mogadishu in 1960, the son of Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the last democratically-elected leader of the country, who was assassinated in 1969.

Sharmarke was raised in the United States and Canada, and holds Canadian citizenship. He has worked for the United Nations in Darfur and most recently worked as Somalia's ambassador-designate to Washington.

Somalia's Western-backed transitional government has little power in the country beyond portions of Mogadishu.

The Somali Islamist militant group al-Shabab denied reports Thursday it is negotiating with the new president, and says it never will.

The group says it will continue fighting against what it called the "apostate government" until Somalia is ruled under strict Sharia (Islamic) law.

Earlier this week, President Sheikh Sharif said he is ready to discuss peace with the Islamist insurgents or any group that still opposes the U.N.-sponsored reconciliation effort.

Al-Shabab controls many parts of Somalia, including Baidoa, which had been the seat of the transitional parliament.

President Sheikh Sharif, a moderate Islamist, was elected last month, replacing President Abdullahi Yusuf, who resigned after a power struggle with his prime minister.

Some information for this report was provided by AP and Reuters.

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