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Somali Parliament Approves New Prime Minister

Somalia president Sharif Sheik Ahmed, right, speaks, during the first session in parliament since he named the new prime minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Speaker of Parliament Sherif Hassan Sheik Adan, is at left, in Parliament hall, Mogadishu, Somali

Somalia's parliament has approved a new prime minister, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

About three-fourths of the 392 lawmakers present endorsed the prime minister in the vote in Mogadishu Sunday.

The vote was delayed for more than a week because of a dispute between President Shiekh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed, who appointed Mr. Mohamed, and the speaker of parliament. The speaker called for a secret ballot, while the president demanded that votes be cast openly.

Lawmakers ultimately cast their votes with a show of hands Sunday. Mr. Mohamed said afterward that he will move with full speed to do the people's business and will form a Cabinet soon.

Mr. Mohamed is a former Somali diplomat who has been living in the eastern U.S. state of New York. Some U.S.-based analysts have said he may lack the political support and connections to do his new job effectively.

He has acknowledged visiting Somalia only once in the last 25 years.

Mr. Mohamed joins a government that has been wracked by infighting as it tries to fight an insurgency by Islamist militants who control most of southern and central Somalia.

Mr. Mohamed's predecessor, Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake, resigned in September after a long-running feud with with the president over a new constitution.

United Nations and foreign diplomats have urged the government to strive for unity to better combat the insurgent threat.

Somalia has not had a functioning central government since 1991.