Somalia Says Parliament to Vote on New Cabinet on Feb. 9
Somalia’s new prime minister will try again next week to put a Cabinet in place after the parliament rejected his first lineup amid weeks of political uncertainty that has worried the international community about the war-torn east African country’s return to stability.
The country’s representative to the United Nations, Awale Ali Kullane, told the U.N. Security Council on Wednesday that the newly named Cabinet will be presented to the parliament for a vote on Monday.
The turmoil at the top of one of Africa’s most fragile states has led the U.N., the European Union, the United States and others to express concern over delays in the implementation of a plan to rebuild Somalia.
Somalia’s new Cabinet of mostly political newcomers was unveiled on Jan. 27 by Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, weeks after he withdrew his first Cabinet picks in the face of parliament’s opposition.
Sharmarke himself was appointed after the parliament ousted his predecessor, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, in December amid a feud between Ahmed and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
The U.N. representative to Somalia, Nicholas Kay, told the council that the political infighting could derail the project to help the country form a new constitution and hold an election by September 2016, and that “this year will be decisive in whether Somalia will be a peaceful and unified state.”
“Somalia is still teetering on the edge,” Kay said, though he pointed to signs of confidence such as the recent series of unprecedented high-level visitors including U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon.
Ban’s latest report on Somalia says the work of Somalia’s government and parliament has “stalled” because of the political crisis.
“There can be no escaping that Somalia has had an eventful past few months,” Kullane told the Security Council.
The country’s major challenges include an insurgency by Islamist militant group al-Shabab, which the U.S. State Department declared a terrorist organization in 2008. U.S. officials said Tuesday that a senior al-Shabab leader, Yusuf Dheeq, was killed in a U.S. airstrike in the southern part of the country over the weekend. The U.S. has been targeting al-Shabab’s leadership in a series of strikes over the past few months.
Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 ouster of dictator Siad Barre. The country’s weak government is currently being supported by African Union troops against the insurgency.