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Somali PM Dissolves Cabinet

FILE - Somali Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke.

Somalia's prime minister has dissolved his Cabinet, just hours before it was to face a confidence vote in parliament. Federal lawmakers Agreed to wait another 14 days before formation of a new government.

Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmake appointed his 60-man Cabinet less than a week ago, but he dissolved the full Council of Ministers Saturday, just before his choices were due to face a confidence vote in Somalia's federal parliament.

Some opposition to Sharmake's Cabinet was expected, but he did not discuss the background of his decision. He asked parliament to grant him an extra 14 days, so he could form a "competent and inclusive" government, and that was quickly given.

A large majority of parliament members currently in the capital approved Sharmake's request. Parliament Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari read out the vote tally.

"A total of 202 MPs voted here today. Two abstained, 10 voted against and 190 supported the prime minister's request," Jawari said. "The premier will form a new Cabinet with full considerations to the issues raised by the MPs."

Lawmakers have spoken out against several of the choices in Sharmake's proposed Cabinet. Their concerns include the removal of former ministers and the role of senior officials previously accused of incompetency.

Despite the order dissolving the Cabinet, the House Speaker ruled that all ministers would remain at their jobs in an acting capacity until parliament approves a future government list.

"The prime minister will, from today, continue to serve with the former Council of Ministers. The Council of Ministers from the previous administration will serve as acting ministers," Jawari said.

Somalia was a lawless territory for years, without any government, but it had been making progress toward stability until last year, when a political crisis developed over disputes between President Hassan Shekih Mohamud and former Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed.

Parliament ousted Ahmed last month and installed Sharmake in his place.

Despite the 14-day extension granted Saturday, political analysts say more opposition is possible if Prime Minister Sharmake's ministerial appointees are seen as too close to President Mohamud.

As the clock ticks, all eyes are on the prime minister and the president, who are tasked with convincing the 275-member parliament to accept the new Cabinet slate, while also living up to public expectations of their program to stabilize Somalia.

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