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New Somali PM Pledges Competent, Trustworthy Government

Somalia Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdoon Saaid listens to a question from the media in Mogadishu, October 6, 2012.
Somalia's new prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdoon Saaid, has pledged to form a competent, trustworthy government ready to work toward developing the country, as it emerges from a United Nations-backed transition plan.

Mr. Saaid told VOA's Somali Service in his first interview since taking the post that he will base his agenda on Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud's six-point plan for building the country's institutions and make adjustments if necessary.

The president's priorities include establishing stability, economic recovery, peace-building, public service delivery, national unity, and improving Somalia's international relations.

Analysts said this is a challenging agenda for a country that did not have a stable government for two decades.

Ernst Hogendoorn, Horn of Africa project director at the International Crisis Group, said Somalia's government is in control of the capital, Mogadishu, and a few other areas, but various competing factions are fighting for control elsewhere.

"Ultimately, the most difficult challenge and arguably the priority for the government should be security for its population," said Hogendoorn. "And that's going to be extremely difficult."

Hogendoorn said Thursday the government will have to coerce opponents to accept its authority, but also try to include other political actors into its programs.

Saaid was a Kenya-based businessman before becoming prime minister. His selection as prime minister was announced Saturday.

Last month, Somalia completed the U.N.-backed plan designed to bring a stable central government to the country after two decades of chaos and conflict.

The last stable government collapsed in 1991.