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Somalia’s New Prime Minister to Name Cabinet Ministers Friday

Somalia's new Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke is expected to begin naming cabinet ministers today (Friday), which is seen as the first step in constituting a unity government. He is currently holding talks with President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as well as the Somali parliament currently meeting in Djibouti about his choice for cabinet ministers. Prime Minister Sharmarke is also expected to present his first 90 days plan to parliament for discussion and endorsement. Abdirahman Warsame Abdushakur is a Somali parliamentarian and close associate of President Sheikh Ahmed. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that there is a general consensus that former warlords should not be included in the new administration.

"The Prime Minister within the next 48 hours from today (Friday) will appoint his cabinet, which will consist of 31 ministers. He will appoint only ministers and appoint deputy ministers when he goes back to Mogadishu and that should be passed by parliament," Abdushakur noted.

He said the new prime minister is required to present his first 90 days plan to parliament in the coming days.

"From today (Friday) the prime minister will distribute his program of 90 days and parliament should have that program within 24 hours after the endorsement of cabinet. So he is expected to present today or probably tomorrow his program and his new cabinet, which parliament should endorse by half or simple majority," he said.

Abdushakur said members of the new cabinet would be constituted mainly based on competence.

"The expectation is to have a cabinet of competency and capability, which can deliver and can deal with Somali problems. And I think most of the Somali people expect that this cabinet should not include those who were warlords and those who participated in the suffering of the people. There would be new faces as the prime minister and the president," Abdushakur noted.

He sharply disagreed with supporters of warlords who are calling for their inclusion in the new unity government.

"This is a new era of Somali politics, which started from the president who is the new face of Somali politics as well as the prime minister. So, the cabinet will be the same and that is what the Somali people expect. And this is to say that the warlord era has ended and the new face would be introduced to the Somali people. And also the cabinet would consist of both the TFG (Transitional Federal Government) and ARS (Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia)…and those who are outside the TFG and the ARS," he said.

Abdushakur said there are efforts underway to bring peace and stability to the country.

"Already, the president has established inside Somalia and Mogadishu the National Security Committee, which will deal with all security issues and by the way included are the current security problems. And already former members of the TFG as well as parliamentarians are now preparing to take back the seat of parliament. And to negotiate with the local community and all the secularists in Baidoa so that when that negotiation end, the government will definitely take back the seat of parliament," Abdushakur pointed out.

He said the Somali parliamentarians would soon relocate from Djibouti where they have been holding meetings to the capital, Mogadishu.

"The parliament and the new cabinet will soon relocate to Mogadishu and then from Mogadishu the government will try to improve the security inside and outside Mogadishu and Baidoa will be the priority," he said.

Sharmarke recently said he was willing to hold discussions with hard line Islamist insurgents to end violence that has plagued the country for nearly two decades. He has the unenviable task of forming an inclusive government to unite and bring peace to the country after 18 years of ineffective government since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991.

Meanwhile, Islamic insurgent group, al-Shabaab has refused to recognize both the president and the new prime minster vowing to take over the country and institute Sharia Law. Al-Shabaab sharply denounced Sharmarke as an illegitimate imposition from the west.