13 January 2005

Somalia: Parliament Endorses New Cabinet

Nairobi — The Somali transitional parliament on Thursday approved the new cabinet named by Prime Minister Ali Muhammad Gedi, four weeks after the assembly rejected his earlier cabinet on the grounds that its selection was unconstitutional.

The vote was approved by 169 MPs, while 78 voted against. "The size of those who voted in favour of the government shows that parliament is now satisfied that the prime minister has satisfied their concerns and questions", Abdulrahman Aden Ibbi, minister of state for parliamentary affairs, told IRIN.

Ibbi said those who voted against the government earlier had done so because "some felt their clans were not well represented - others were driven by personal interest".

He said the next move for the government is to decide when to relocate to Somalia.

"The cabinet will meet as soon as possible [to agree] on an exact date for relocation," Ibbi said. Another source told IRIN that the cabinet would meet on Saturday to decide a date for relocation.

Ibbi further said that a 12-member-strong committee, consisting of parliamentary and government ministers were to leave for Somalia to assess the extent of damage caused by the tsunami that hit the Somali coast.

"We will visit from Hafun [northeast] to Barava [South]," Ibbi said.

Gedi, a 51-year-old former professor of veterinary science, was initially appointed on 3 November. Commentators said he had not been tainted by the factional bloodshed that ruined Somalia following the toppling of the regime of Muhammad Siyad Barre in 1991.

He is a member of the Abgal sub-clan, of the Hawiye clan, and was a prominent member of the political arm of the United Somali Congress, one of the armed groups that overthrew Barre.

Members of the transitional federal parliament had on 10 October elected Abdullahi Yusuf as president. The election marked the culmination of a two-year reconciliation conference sponsored by the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development that brought representatives together from various clans and factions.

The new government, which includes several faction leaders, has not been able to move from Nairobi to Mogadishu, citing security considerations. But it has come under increasing pressure from the Kenyan government and western diplomats to relocate.

[ This report does not necessarily reflect the views of the United Nations ]

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