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Somali Parliament Confirms Abdi Farah Shirdon As New PM

Somalia's parliament on Wednesday voted by an overwhelming majority to endorse the appointment of Abdi Farah Shirdon as the country's new Prime Minister, marking another major milestone in the Horn of Africa nation's political transition process.

Shirdon was nominated to the post by newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who while addressing lawmakers ahead of Wednesday's vote said his Prime Minister nominee was very much capable of tackling the "country's difficult situation".

Shirdon took the oath of office soon after his nomination was approved by the parliament. His next task would be to form a cabinet. Ahead of the vote, Shirdon addressing the parliament said he would form "an effective government to deal with current situation" if his nomination was endorsed by the MPs.

Soon after the Parliament endorsed Shirdon as the country's new Prime Minister, UN Special Representative of the Secretary-General for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, welcomed the development stating it was an encouraging start to cooperation between two important arms of the government.

"The approval of Prime Minister Shirdon by the Somali legislature is further incontrovertible evidence of progress in Somalia. The United Nations Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS) recognizes that by approving the new Prime Minister the Federal Parliament has cast a vote of confidence in the new leadership," Mahiga said.

Urging "the new Prime Minister to appoint without delay a new council of ministers," Mahiga noted that "there is much to do and little time to waste." The UN official also pledged to work with the new PM and his government in advancing stability, economic recovery, peacebuilding, service delivery, international relations and unity.

Somalia had undergone a peace and national reconciliation process in recent months, with the country's UN-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 last month, giving the 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 city of Mogadishu.

Most of such attacks have been blamed on the al-Shabaab, which is considered to be Somalia's most prominent and influential Islamist militant unit. The al-Qaeda aligned outfit is branded a terrorist organization by the United States and most of the international community. The group is the military wing of the Islamist movement ousted by Ethiopia-backed Somali forces in 2006.

Until recently, al-Shabaab and allied Islamist militant groups controlled large areas in southern Somalia where they enforced strict Islamic laws or Sharia. But in recent months, Somali forces, backed by African Union peacekeepers, have managed to seize control of most regions, except some pockets in rural southern and central Somalia which are still under rebel control.

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