Africa

Somalia MPs approve Shirdon as the new prime minister

  • 17 October 2012
  • From the section Africa
Abdi Farah Shirdon
Image caption Abdi Farah Shirdon studied economics at Somalia National University in the 1970s

Members of Somalia's parliament have approved the appointment of Abdi Farah Shirdon as the new prime minister.

The MPs unanimously backed the ex-businessman, nominated by newly elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Before the vote Mr Shirdon said he would form "an effective government to deal with current situation".

Somalia has suffered more than 20 years of war and the election of Mr Mohamud last month was considered the first fair poll in Mogadishu for 42 years.

Addressing MPs, President Mohamud said he was confident the new prime minister would do something about the "country's difficult situation".

The biggest challenge facing Somalia's new UN-backed leaders is the al-Qaeda-aligned Islamist group, al-Shabab.

Despite losing key towns over the last few months, the militants still control large areas of rural southern and central Somalia.

Al-Shabab supporters have carried out a number of suicide attacks in the capital, Mogadishu, since the group was driven out of the city by African Union and pro-government forces last year - including several since Mr Mohamud's election.

Mr Shirdon took the oath of office shortly after the vote and his next task is to form a cabinet.

An economics graduate, Mr Shirdon has been based in Kenya's capital, Nairobi, since the civil war in Somalia began in 1991.

In April, he co-founded the Rajo Council, or Hope Council, in Nairobi, which he said aimed to bring Somalis together to reclaim the country.

He is married to Aisha Hagi Elmi, a prominent Somali MP and outspoken voice on women's issues.

Since the overthrow of President Siad Barre in 1991, Somalia has seen clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and its neighbours all battling for control of the country.

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