Somali PM names new 20-minister cabinet

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MOGADISHU (Reuters) – Somalia’s new prime minister on Tuesday chose a 20-strong cabinet made up mainly of political novices without ministerial experience to speed up the fraught recovery process in a country battered by more than two decades of war.

Lawmakers had in December approved the appointment of Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the third premier in little more than a year, after a row between his predecessor and the president.

Sharmarke, 54, Somalia’s ambassador to Washington who also served as premier from 2009 to 2010, said in a statement: “After berating with the president, speaker of parliament, legislators, civil society and the entire Somali community, tonight I have named cabinet ministers.”

Earlier this month he had named a list of 25 ministers but lawmakers complained that 10 of those politicians had been in the previous government that had not delivered change fast enough. He was then given two weeks to pick new ministers.

“The new cabinet ministers have no connection with the current political conflict,” the prime minister’s statement said.

Western powers, who have been the main backers of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and his government, have said an extended political paralysis would only encourage Islamist al Shabaab rebels and damage efforts to strengthen fragile institutions.

Sharmarke’s ministerial list will be put before the parliament for approval in coming days.

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