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Somali Prime Minister Swears in New Cabinet

Somalia's prime minister on Friday announced his new cabinet, following the rejection by parliament last month of his first cabinet. The ministers were immediately sworn in.

During the swearing-in ceremony, Prime Minister Ali Mohammed Gedi read out the names of more than 40 ministers plus assistant ministers and state ministers. Witnessing the event was Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

The country's new foreign minister, Abdullahi Sheik Ismail, described to VOA the significance of Friday's ceremony. "It could be viewed as actually progress toward the achievement of peace and reconciliation and institutional building in Somalia," he said.

Mr. Ismail said, as foreign minister, his main tasks will be to encourage the world to help re-build his country after almost 14 years of civil war and to put Somalia back on the map as a fully functioning country.

"Our foreign policy generally should be friendly oriented and its major role would be to reconnect Somalia to the rest of the world and to make Somalia occupy its place within the international forums," he added.

This is the second time a Somali cabinet has been sworn in just about a month. In December, the country's 275-seat parliament passed a no-confidence motion against Prime Minister Gedi, saying that he was in office illegally because he had not been approved by parliament according to procedures laid down in the country's interim constitution.

His cabinet was subsequently rejected.

But soon after, the parliament accepted Prime Minister Gedi, and he set out to put together a new cabinet.

The swearing-in ceremony ends more than two years of peace talks held in Kenya during which factional leaders, civil society representatives, traditional elders, and others came together to write a new charter for the country and pick a new government.

Somalia fell into anarchy after then-leader Siad Barre was ousted in 1991. Since then, groups based on clan and sub-clan affiliations have controlled different parts of the country through their militias, with no central government to provide law, order, and resources to the people.

Because Somalia's capital, Mogadishu, is so dangerous the government of Prime Minister Gedi is now operating out of Nairobi, but it is expected to return to Mogadishu when conditions permit.