Somali Parliament Approves New Prime Minister

Posted June 28th, 2011 at 11:35 am (UTC-5)
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Somali lawmakers have approved Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a Somali-American economist, as the country's new prime minister.

Parliamentary Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden says lawmakers approved Ali on Tuesday by a vote of 437 to four, with two abstentions.

Ali, who was immediately sworn in after the approval, said he will focus on fighting terrorism and practicing good governance. The new prime minister said the government will push for national reconciliation and do more to address humanitarian issues.

He says he looks forward to forming a new government as soon as possible.

Like his predecessor, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, Mr. Ali is an American citizen. He holds a masters degree from Harvard University and previously taught economics at Niagara University in New York state.

Mr. Mohamed was forced out earlier this month by a deal struck between the speaker and President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed.

The two leaders had been at odds over the future of Somalia's transitional government. The government's mandate was due to expire in August but President Sharif and the speaker agreed on a one-year extension for both parliament and federal institutions.

International donors are pressuring Somali leaders to chart a clear path toward stability. Somalia has not had a stable central government since 1991, and the government still relies on African Union peacekeepers to hold off Islamist militants.

Last week, a government spokesman told VOA that Mr. Ali was chosen as prime minister for his charisma, education and government experience. Mr. Ali previously served as minister for planning and international cooperation, and as deputy prime minister.