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For new Somali PM Shirdon, security and economy top priorities

Sunday, October 21, 2012

Somalia's newly appointed prime minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon Said left is congratulated by deputies on October 06, 2012, in Mogadishu. The country's parliament last week voted to a man to confirm the businessman. PHOTO | AFP 

While seeking the endorsement of the Federal Parliament in Mogadishu last Wednesday, new premier Abdi Farah Shirdon vowed to focus on improving security particularly in the troubled southern and central regions of Somalia, with resuscitation of the economy also a top priority.

For many Somalis, violent deaths from terrorism remain freshly etched in their minds, making the prime minister's guarantee of fixing security welcome.

"I will also direct my government’s attention to the resettlement of internally displaced people,” said Mr Shirdon, saying that he was fully aware of the hardships that residents have had to endure.

He told the attentive legislators that another priority in his government’s agenda was to facilitate the return of the Somali refugees that are scattered in many parts of the world.

Other points he advanced were those of good governance and delivery and availability of justice. "My government will practice a fair governing system that will lead to equality for all," said Mr Shirdon who was appointed premier on October 6 by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud subject to confirmation by parliament.

Speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari challenged legislators to weigh the action plan ahead of the vote on Mr Shirdon. "You represent the people in this hall and your votes by show of hand will determine the fate of the nation," he said.

All 215 MPs voted in favour of Mr Shirdon, with none voting against or abstaining, an overwhelming show of confidence in the businessman.


Ahead of the vote President Mohamoud told the legislators that he had a lot of confidence in his choice of Mr Shirdon as prime minster and in the government he would form if approved by parliament.

President Mohamoud said that the new team would crush all barriers to Somalia's peace and stability.

"The new government will pulverise Al-Shabaab and burcadbadeed (sea gangs in Somali language) attacking marine transporters in and around Somalia,” said President Mohamoud.

The head of state said the new cabinet to be shortly constituted would not squander the fresh impetus offered by a change of government in Somalia.

The former Transitional Federal Government ceased to exist on August 20 when its term officially ended following the selection of members of the federal parliament that was instituted under a provisional constitution adopted by a constituent assembly on August 1.

This led to the first democratically contested presidential election in Mogadishu since 1967, with the new president chosen by MPs.

The gap was created by two decades of dictatorship under the rule of the late Gen Mohamed Siad Barre, and another two decades of chaos and anarchy on his exit in 1991.

The new president, who defeated the incumbent Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed in a September 10 vote, was closely associated with Isbeddel-doon (change-oriented) a change long required by Somalis.


Prof Jawari's rise to become the speaker of the house on August 28 lent credence to the feeling of change and the clamour for a break from the past. Prof Mohamoud's election was the outcome and since then Somalis have been anxiously waiting for the formation of the first non-transitional government in Somalia.

At parliament on Wednesday, President Mohamoud promised that his government would reward good performance.

"My government has already restarted paying incentives to the armed forces," he said. "We are also offering Gram-kii (the food ration) to the forces fighting Al-Shabaab."

"Under my premiership, restitution of security and revival of the economy will remain concurrent,” said Mr Shirdon. "My government’s drive is to encourage investment as well as to take care of strategic services, particularly education and health," he added, although he did not give details.

"Out of the transitional period into an era of permanent government, I’ll be putting more efforts in cementing the relationship between Somalia and the international community," Mr Shirdon added.

He succeeds Prof Abdiweli Mohamed Ali. "While carrying on with the same programme [of the transitional government] my government will also have its distinctive work plan,” said PM Shirdon.

Now that a businessman has become premier, what remains in the Isbeddel-doon jigsaw is the formation of a quality cabinet and the implementation of the promised ambitious social and economic pledges.


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