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Wednesday, October 20, 2010

Chaos in Somali parliament delays vote on PM

Wednesday, October 20, 2010
MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia's parliamentary speaker postponed on Wednesday a vote to endorse the newly appointed prime minister after the Horn of Africa nation's assembly descended into chaos.

Lawmakers got into shouting matches over whether the vote should be conducted in secret or openly.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed last week picked U.S.-educated former diplomat Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to lead his government after the previous premier quit, paying the price for failing to rein in a three-year Islamist insurgency.

Postponing the vote until Saturday, Speaker Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden proposed that it be held in secret.
Once nominated by the president, the prime minister's appointment must be approved by parliament.

Earlier, Mohamed told legislators he came free of political baggage. "I do not belong to any group, religious or political, or any other group other than I am a Somali citizen who wants to take part in the development of this nation which has had no effective government for about two decades," he said.

Some analysts cited a widening divide between Ahmed and the speaker, who deputises for the president when he travels or if he is incapacitated, and said the postponement was only a delaying tactic.

"There is a big rift between the president who wants members of parliament to approve the new prime minister and the speaker who seems to have a different view judging by what happened today," said Ahmed Elmi, a Mogadishu-based political analyst.

"I believe this will hinder this already weak government (effort) to move forward," he said.

Horn of Africa experts say the Western-backed interim government has failed to make any significant strides towards stabilising anarchic, war-torn Somalia. Critics say the government is plagued by internal feuding and corruption.

Ahmed's administration is propped up by African Union peacekeepers in Mogadishu, but Islamist rebels control large chunks of the capital and much of south and central Somalia.

(Reporting by Abdi Guled; Writing by Richard Lough; Editing by Mark Heinrich)
Source: Reuters


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