Somali president names new PM

December 16, 2008 12:00 am

, BAIDOA, December 16 – Somali President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed on Tuesday appointed a new prime minister despite parliament’s rejection of his decision to dismiss the current premier.

Yusuf appointed close ally Mohamoud Mohamed Gouled to replace Nur Hassan Hussein, who on Monday received overwhelming backing from lawmakers following his dismissal at the weekend.

"The country was not having a functioning government and this is why I nominated a new prime minister," Yusuf said.

The move is likely to worsen infighting in the government, which has been fraught with power wrangles and unable to exert authority across the lawless country since its formation in 2004.

Yusuf announced on Sunday he was sacking the prime minister and the entire cabinet because they had failed to bring security to the nation, but the premier challenged the move as unconstitutional.

The two leaders have been at loggerheads in recent months, notably over efforts to strike a reconciliation agreement with the Islamist-dominated Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS).

The UN mediator of the talks has warned that the row risked hindering reconciliation efforts and African Union Commission chairman Jean Ping also voiced concern.

Hussein, who was appointed in November 2007, also survided a no-confidence vote in September after some lawmakers accused him of of embezzling state funds.

Presidential spokesman Hussein Mohamed Mohamoud said Yusuf acted "according to powers stipulated by the transitional federal charter."

"This was the moment the Somali people have been waiting for," he added.

Conflict in Somalia and power struggles that erupted since the 1991 ouster of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre have scuppered numerous initiatives to restore national stability.


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