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Former Somali Ministers to Hand Over Power Officially to New Ministers

A Somali minister under the former Transitional Federal Government (TFG) will hand over official documents to President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's unity government today at a ceremony in the capital, Mogadishu. New ministers are also expected to hold meetings to address security problems in the country. This comes after President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed agreed over the weekend to a truce and the introduction of Sharia law to try to defuse clashes with tribal leaders. The deal follows talks between the new Somali government and its clan opponents, mediated by regional religious leaders. The move is expected to weaken Islamic insurgent groups, including al-Shabab which has vowed to take over the country and implement Sharia law. Abdirashid Irro is a cabinet minister in the new administration. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that the new government will embark on a massive recruiting exercise in its bid to address the country's security challenges.

"We will be deciding on two things for today's meeting. First of all, we have to come up with an idea that we can pacify and make the security issues like the organizing of our security forces. And on the other hand we also continue the peace process. We will open a dialogue with our oppositions inside and outside of Somalia so that in that way we will address the security situation matters," Irro pointed out.

He said the new administration intends to reorganize the Somali government's revenue collection efforts.

"We will like to rebuild our public financial authorities like the customs revenue and the inland revenue, all the sides that we can improve the collection of money in order to improve the challenging security issues," he said.

Irro said the meeting would also seek to address the piracy off Somalia's coast.

"We are going to be addressing those issues, but better, as you know, before we do anything else, if you want to overcome the piracy, we have to have our marine forces. So we are now going to recruit and organize our military forces. Then we will go against the pirates. We will also like to pacify the rest of the country. Unless you make peace inland, you cannot control the sea," Irro noted.

He said today's handing over should go smoothly according to plan.

"We are organizing everything well, and about six ministers are going to be handing over to the new ministers. And that will take place this morning, and hopefully it will go well according to plan. The outgoing ministers have already told me they are well prepared and that they have all the necessary documentation and also the resources. So they will be handing over to the new ministers today," he said.

Irro said the new administration would be quite different from the former Transitional Federal Government.

"I think this is mostly from the president and from the prime minister as well as the whole cabinet. These are new and young people or politicians with open minds, and I think they will be more understanding of each other. They will also be of one team, of one nation, and of one leadership. Then they can handle the situation," Irro pointed out.

The agreement between the government and the Islamists has yet to be passed by Somalia's parliament. But the president said there was no problem from the government's side if people wanted to be governed by Sharia law. The truce comes after militants fought government and African Union forces in clashes which killed at least 30 people in the last few days.

Al-Shabab recently seized the town of Baidoa, which had been the seat of the Somali parliament.

Described as a terrorist organization with links to Al Qaeda, al-Shabab has refused to recognize President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's administration. It vows to continue attacks in an attempt eventually to take over the country and implement fully Sharia law.

Meanwhile, the United Nations is urging Somalis in the Diaspora to condemn violent insurgent attacks and support President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's new administration.

In an open letter to the Somali diaspora, U.N. envoy Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah reportedly said the return of ministers to Mogadishu proved progress towards peace is being made faster than most Somalis or the international community had dared hope.