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News Analysis: Somali PM faces huge task to form a cabinet accepted by parliament

MOGADISHU, Jan. 19 (Xinhua) — Somali Parliament on Saturday approved a two-week extension period requested by Somalia’s Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to form an inclusive government.

Sharmarke dissolved his proposed list of cabinet ministers barely hours after it was set to face a confidence vote by the country’s top lawmaking body.

Angry lawmakers vowed to reject Sharmarke’s cabinet appointees whom they accused of incompetency since the list had ministers who served in the previous administration.

Experts said on Monday the PM who was elected into office late last year will face a lot of difficulties in trying to come up with a new cabinet list which will enjoy confidence of the Somalis especially Members of Parliament.

According to Abdihamid Hassan Wehliye, a public policy lecturer at Simad University and political analyst, Sharmarke will have a difficult task in convincing Somalia’s divided parliament to approve the new government.

He said the country’s federal parliament remains divided since October 2014 after fallout between President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and the then Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed.

“Most lawmakers want to be in Sharmarke’s list of ministers. He has to consider their concerns if he is to form a government anytime soon,” Wehliye told Xinhua.

“Clan based parliament rather than political parties is the country’s political implications as well as the top leadership of the country,” he added.

Wehliye said time was running out for the parliament which has 18 months left to approve bills and endorse commissions before the end of the current administration.

Sharmarke on Saturday acknowledged the need to build consensus in his efforts to establish a national unity government tasked with achieving the Vision 2016 agenda.

“I appreciate the continued support of the Federal Parliament to my administration in our endeavor to deliver critical services to the Somali people and to accomplish the key tasks ahead of us,” he said in his letter to the Speaker, recalling his cabinet list.

Experts said dissolving the proposed government list was the only option available for the PM who was endorsed by parliament late last year.

“Most of the parliamentarians had already voiced opposition to Sharmarke’s list. Dissolving it was the only option he had,” said Abdirahman Omar Osman, a former Information Minister.

“Majority of the cabinet appointees served in the former government under Prime Minister Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed. This is one of the major concerns raised by Somali lawmakers,” Osman added.

Political commentators had earlier warned that Sharmarke’s list of ministers will not be endorsed by the 275-member parliament.

Some 190 parliamentarians however approved his call for extension in forming a new administration with full regard to the issues raised by lawmakers.

Sharmarke is the third prime minister to take office since September 2012 after lawmakers in Mogadishu picked Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the Somali president.

Sharmarke once served as Somalia’s prime minister in 2009 under the then President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. He then resigned, following political differences between him and the president.

He is now tasked with delivering Somalia’s Vision 2016 that includes establishment of federal states, referendum on the country’s draft constitution, integration of national forces and elections.

 

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