Somali president will appoint new PM, speaker quits

Somalia’s speaker resigned on Monday and President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed said he would appoint a prime minister in what analysts saw as a deal to clear the decks for a new stable government in the Horn of Africa nation.

Meeting for the first time on Sunday since December, Somalia’s parliament voted overwhelmingly to oust Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Sharmarke and his Western-backed government. Some also voted to remove speaker Sheikh Aden Madobe.

Analysts said the president’s move was likely decided in a deal with the speaker and the prime minister to save the government from total disintegration and that the president would likely to reappoint Sharmarke.

“It is a sort of compromise to save the government from a total collapse. It is likely that the president will reappoint the current prime minister, as long as they had no rift between them,” Rashid Abdi, an analyst on Somalia at the International Crisis Group.

Parliamentary business has been paralysed this year, with many legislators living in Kenya, Europe and America because of security fears in the war-riven country. The chamber has also been split by a bitter feud over the duration of Madobe’s term in office and his competence.

Analysts say Ahmed has failed to unite some of the country’s warring factions and establish a greater degree of central power that many had hoped at his election in January 2009.

“I do not think the president’s announcement is to increase confusion in the system,” said Abdirahman Moalim Badiyow, history professor at Mogadishu University.

“The resignation of the speaker and the president’s decision seems to be a gentlemen’ agreement paving the way for a new start. And that new beginning will depend on the incoming speaker and prime minister.”

Somalia has been mired in violence and lacked effective central government since the overthrow of a dictator in 1991. Islamist fighters have waged a three year insurgency that has killed more than 21,000 people.



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