Somalia President Sheikh Ahmed to Begin Process of Selecting Prime Minister


Somalia's newly elected President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed is expected in Djibouti today to begin the process of nominating a new prime minister as part of constituting his new unitary government. President Ahmed will meet and hold discussions with Somali parliamentarians currently assembled in Djibouti. The new president promised an effective government which aims to resolve military instability in the capital, Mogadishu and the seat of parliament in Baidoa, where al-Shabab Islamic insurgents have recently intensified attacks. Al-Shabab, described by Washington as a terrorist organization, recently took over the Somali parliament building in Baidoa, promising to institute Sharia law and continue to fight government and international forces.

Abdurrahman Abdushakur is a member of the Somali parliament and a close associate of President Sheikh Ahmed. He tells reporter Peter Clottey that Somalis would soon know who would be in President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed's new government.

"They would soon hear as soon as possible because Sheikh Sharif knows that the first priority of his task now is to appoint a prime minister. And he has to consult with members of the parliament as well as his team of advisors and also take into account the concern of the different activists who are involved in Somali politics, as well as the stakeholders. So we are expecting as soon as possible the president to appoint a new prime minister," Abdushakur said.

He said members of the new Somali government will be selected on merit.

"The president has concluded the attendance of the African Union (AU) summit and today, Wednesday, he will be in Djibouti to start the process of selecting a prime minister and try to form a National Unity Government," he pointed out.

Abdushakur said newly elected President Sheikh Ahmed is aware of the insecurity situation in the country, with the ever-increasing insurgent attacks, and would soon come up with solutions to address them.

"There are huge challenges ahead as we know, but also there are opportunities. And it depends on how the new leadership will merge the opportunities with the challenges and I think the challenges of the insurgency would be easier if Sheikh Sharif implemented his policy of engagement with all who are against him. I think his method of implementing peace program Somalis would help him, and he has already begun talking to the various groups and there have been very positive conclusions. And I hope that there would be an end to the violence," Abdushakur pointed out.

There were reports of Ethiopian troops crossing over into Somalia and setting up checkpoints around the central region of Hiran, two weeks after the troops withdrew. The Ethiopian troops withdrew from Somalia two years after assisting the internationally backed Somali transitional government in toppling an Islamist administration.

Abdushakur said the president has met Ethiopian leaders at the sidelines of the African Union summit to address reports of the return of Ethiopian troops along the border with Somalia.

"We have heard about the reports, and we haven't yet condemned them. We are still contacting our commanders on the field and if that is true, we will raise the issue with the Ethiopian leadership. Sheikh Sharif yesterday met with the Ethiopian prime minister and the foreign affairs minister, and we have discussed all those issues. And if it is indeed true, and we contact our local leaders and commanders on the ground, we will again raise the issue with the Ethiopian officials," Abdushakur said.

He said President Sheikh Ahmed's new government would be constituted based on the value an individual would contribute to the process of rebuilding Somalia.

"Somalis are going to be having an inclusive national unity government, which would be selected by merit and by talent, by capacity and also politicians who have accountability and trust among Somalis. And soon we will also have the selection of a new prime minister. And I hope this government would be different from the previous governments," he noted.

Meanwhile, al-Shabab has refused to recognize the new Somali government, promising to form an Islamic state in Somalia and implement Sharia. The group also pledged to unite with other insurgent fighters to further its objective of forming an Islamic state.