Turkey welcomes new Somali cabinet as important step

Newly appointed members of Somalia's cabinet stand during the ceremony held at the Presidential Palace in capital Mogadishu on Nov. 4. (Photo: Reuters)

November 14, 2012, Wednesday/ 11:04:00

Turkey says it welcomes a move by Somalia’s new prime minister to unveil a new cabinet last Sunday, who kept a delicate balance among rival clans as it tries to shake off years of conflict that still plagues the country despite a recent push against al-Qaeda-linked militants.

The formation of the government is the culmination of a regionally brokered, UN-backed effort to restore central control and end close to two decades of fighting that has killed tens of thousands of people.

A statement released by the Turkish Foreign Ministry said Somalia tackled an important stage in its transition period and wished luck to the Somali prime minister and Cabinet.

In September, Somalia inaugurated President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud - elected in the first vote of its kind since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, leaving the African nation without an effective central government.

Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid, chosen by Mohamud because he is untainted by clan rivalry, will have to tackle corruption, the insurgency and piracy off the coast along strategic Indian Ocean shipping lanes.

Somali, Ethiopian and African Union peacekeeping troops have pushed the al Qaeda-linked al Shabaab insurgents out of the main areas they took over in their five-year-old revolt, encouraging many Somalis to return to rebuild their country. But the militants are still capable of launching attacks in Mogadishu.

Saaid retained three ministers who had served in former President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's transitional government, among them Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi as the minister for defence.

The statement added that Turkey believes the new government under the leadership of Saaid will make progress in many spheres such as providing basic public services to every corner of the country.

In a sign Somalia's government may be willing to move away from its corrupt past, the parliament on Tuesday approved the Cabinet in a vote that serves as an important victory for the country's new prime minister.

The Cabinet is expected to be sworn in next week.

The Cabinet also named two women ministers: the minister of foreign affairs, who also serves as deputy prime minister, and the minister of development and social services.

Past Somali governments have been bloated with huge numbers of ministries designed to appease certain clans.

The new Cabinet must continue the rebuilding of the country after years of warfare with al-Shabab militants, who continue to unleash suicide attacks in Mogadishu.

Turkey said it will continue standing by “its Somali brothers” in a period when the future of country is being shaped and added that it will continue support the works aimed at establishing domestic peace and stability and improving people’s life standards in Somalia.

 

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