Somali interim PM hails changes in gov't as "historic"

09:11, September 25, 2010      

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Somali interim Prime Minister Abdiwahid Elmi Gonjeh has described this week's resignation of former premier as historic and political maturity as he takes charge of cabinet affairs, a government statement said.

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed named Abdiwahid Elmi Gonjeh as acting prime minister who has served as deputy prime minister and a minister in the government of newly-resigned Premier Omar Abdelrashid Ali Sharmarkeh.

Elmi praised both Somali president and former prime minister for their "political maturity", saying the decision by the Sharmarke to step down shows that "Somali leaders can put an end to their internal divisions without the involvement of partners." "This is a historic decision. The difference of opinion was solved without seeking outside help. This shows that the Transitional Federal Institutions are working properly to intervene when the executive body faces difficulties," said the statement of which Xinhua obtained a copy.

The caretaker Premier urged all cabinet ministers to move ahead working for the interest of the country and to work as usual until a new cabinet is appointed to avoid creating any vacuum.

The caretaker prime minister accused Islamist groups of trying to take advantage of recent changes by launching an offensive against the Somali Government and the peacekeeping troops from African Union (AU) peacekeeping Mission (AMISOM).

He, however, added that the attacks were repulsed and Islamist rebel fighters were, as he put it, "defeated heavily". "Our troops together with AMISOM are ready to defend the Somali people," he said in a statement.

President Ahmed, who is currently in New York for the UN General Assembly meetings, has 30 days to appoint a new prime minister who will in turn form a government before seeking the confidence of the Somali parliament.

The resignation of the Somali prime minister came after rift with the president over drafting a new constitution for the country as required by the transitional federal charter which stipulates that the new Somali constitution be drafted before the end of the transitional term of the current government which is only a year away.

The transitional government was formed following the Djibouti reconciliation talks resulted in the election of the moderate Islamist-leaning Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as the president in early 2009 but the radical opposition groups refused to accept and have been fighting the government since.

Islamist groups, who control much of south and center of Somalia, have been carrying out deadly insurgency against the government which under the protection of 6,000 African Union peacekeeping troops runs only few parts of the restive capital.

Source: Xinhua


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