Friday, November 16, 2012
Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon, Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari and other lawmakers shake hands with newly appointed cabinet members after Shirdon announced his new government on November 4th.
The ten-member cabinet of Somalia's newly appointed Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon was sworn into office on Thursday, two days after the country's parliament voted overwhelmingly to endorse the ministerial line-up.
Prime Minister Shirdon had unveiled his cabinet on November 4, with two female Ministers in the proposed ministerial line-up for the first time in the nation's history.
In the cabinet line-up forwarded to the parliament for approval, Shirdon had named Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan as the country's Deputy Prime Minister as well as Foreign Affairs Minister, and nominated Maryam Kassim, another female politician, as Minister for Social Development Services.
Maryam Kassim had held the same portfolio in former President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's transitional government. Two other Ministers from the previous government also retained their departments in the new Cabinet, including Defense Minister Abdihakim Haji Mohamud Fiqi and Justice Minister Abdihakim Mohamud.
United Nations Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon welcomed the swearing-in of the new cabinet on Thursday, saying: "This marks another important step in the determined efforts by Somalia's new leadership to bring about a positive change in Somalia."
In a press release issued Thursday, the UN said its chief and his Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, look forward "to working with the President and his Government to implement the six-pillar policy that will guide the country to democratic elections in the course of the next four years."
The six-pillar policy is aimed at securing progress in the areas of stability, economic recovery, peace-building, service delivery, international relations and unity in the Horn of Africa nation.
The development comes after Somalia's Parliament voted last month to endorse Shirdon's appointment as the country's new Prime Minister. He was nominated to the post by newly-elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.
Somalia had undergone a peace and national reconciliation process in recent months, with the country's U.N.-backed transitional federal institutions implementing the "Roadmap for the End of Transition" devised in September 2011.
The transition process culminated in the election of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as President in September, giving the impoverished country its first proper government since the fall of dictator Mohamed Siad Barre's government in 1991. Nevertheless, Somalia still witnesses frequent bombings and militant attacks, mainly in the capital Mogadishu.
Until recently, Islamist militant groups controlled large areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or Sharia. Nonetheless, in recent months, Somali forces backed by African Union peacekeepers, have managed to recapture most of the country from the Islamist militants, except some pockets in rural southern and central Somalia which are still under rebel control.