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Somalia's Interim PM Says He Will Remain in Office

Somalia's interim Prime Minister, Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke, says he is staying in office, contradicting an announcement made by the Somali president that he will name a new Cabinet and prime minister.

The statement by Somali interim Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke that he will remain in office, comes one day after Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed said he will name a new Cabinet and prime minister.

Mr. Sharif announced he would select new government leaders after a no confidence vote by parliament and the resignation of Parliament Speaker Sheik Aden Mohamed Nur Madobe. Madobe stepped down from office Monday after a months-long feud with members of the government's executive branch.

President Sharif urged lawmakers to elect a new speaker to end months of infighting. He invited the former speaker to stay in the government and said he would appoint a new prime minister.

But Prime Minister Sharmarke told reporters in Mogadishu Tuesday that he has not submitted his resignation. He said he spoke to President Sharif overnight, and that they agreed the current cabinet ministers would continue their work as usual.

The prime minister's statement could not be immediately verified.

The cause of the dispute involving the former speaker is not clear. But unconfirmed media reports in Somalia say President Sharif and the prime minister tried to replace Madobe earlier this year with current Finance Minister Sharif Hassan. Madobe's supporters in parliament tried to bring a motion of impeachment against Prime Minister Sharmarke.

Whatever the cause, the dispute further weakened a government that is facing serious challenges, including efforts by al-Qaida-linked al-Shabab militants to capture the capital, Mogadishu, and unite the rest of Somalia under an ultra-conservative Islamic banner.

Insecurity prompted many of Somalia's 550 lawmakers to flee the country and seek asylum in neighboring Kenya, Europe, and the United States.

President Sharif's Western-backed Transitional Federal Government was formed in January 2009 to reconcile with Islamist opponents and to establish a functioning administration in Somalia. But the insurgency intensified, leaving the government in control of only a small area of the capital defended by African Union peacekeepers.

Efforts to build up a Somali army have largely failed amid accusations that millions of dollars the government has received from the United States and other international donors to train and equip Somali soldiers have been siphoned off by government officials or have ended up aiding insurgent groups.

The Associated Press recently reported that the United States spent nearly $7 million in the past year to train Somali troops, but almost half of them deserted, some to al-Shabab, because the soldiers were not paid their monthly wages.