Somalia's latest political crisis appears to be over, now lawmakers have approved a new Cabinet after a long delay. But the question remains whether Somali leaders can stop the cycle of such crises, which have undermined government after government and hurt efforts to stabilize the war-torn country.
On Monday, lawmakers endorsed a 66-man Cabinet list proposed by new Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake. The approval came as a relief, after lawmakers twice voiced strong opposition to Sharmake’s proposed list of ministers.
191 MPs endorsed the Cabinet in a session chaired by the country’s parliament speaker.
“213 MPs voted here today, 191 voted in favor, 22 MPs voted against. As per the constitution, the Cabinet has been unanimously endorsed," said Somali parliament speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari.
The country’s parliament had remained divided since October, when differences between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and then-prime minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed emerged.
The dispute led to Ahmed's dismissal and the appointment of Sharmake. Since then, the new prime minister has faced an uphill task in convincing lawmakers that his Cabinet choices will help end Somalia's long-running political crisis.
Addressing lawmakers on Monday, he outlined his government’s goals for the coming year, with security and and preparation for the 2016 elections being at the top of the list.
“As a government, we will focus on creating a permanent political solution, improve the areas of security, justice, people's welfare, realization of the Vision 2016 plan, national reconciliation as well as uplifting of the country’s infrastructure," said the prime minister.
Hassan Ali is a Somali political commentator. He said the government must come up with a way to end the differences that always emerge between the leadership.
He said first, the government under Prime Minister Sharmarke must have a political vision and they should be clear on what they do.
"Second, they must completely avoid the differences that always emerge between the top offices, like what we have witnessed for the past 12 years under the transitional government. The government should come up with a strategy now to avoid a repeat of such differences," said Ali.
The new Cabinet has received praise from U.S., European and African envoys to Somalia, among others. In a joint statement the international partners renewed their call for the country’s leadership and parliament to move toward implementing Somalia's "Vision 2016" objectives through the new Cabinet.
But observers argue that the parliament must remain neutral in the country’s politics. Hassan said that parliament should stop filing endless motions against Somali government leaders.
He said the parliament has made it a route to file motions for or against the government. 'We appeal to parliament to stop being part of this crisis. Parliament should also give the Somali public a chance until September 2016, when new MPs will be selected."
Sharmake is President Mohamud’s third prime minister since parliament elected him as the country's leader in September 2012.