Somalia to get first female foreign minister

Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan
Image caption Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan said her nomination was a historic moment for Somalia

Somalia is to get its first female foreign minister in a cabinet formed by new Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon.

Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan is among 10 politicians joining a cabinet that has been significantly reduced in size.

She described her inclusion as "historic" for both the country and Somali women in particular.

However, correspondents say Mr Shirdon may struggle to get his choices through parliament because some clans feel they have not been properly represented.

Mr Shirdon, an ex-businessman, took office last month after his nomination - by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud - was approved by MPs.

The election of Mr Mohamud in September was considered the first fair poll in the capital Mogadishu for 42 years.

They take on a country that has been without effective central authority for more than 20 years while clan-based warlords, Islamist militants and Somalia's neighbours all battled for control following the 1991 overthrow of President Siad Barre.

Big challenge

"After long discussions and consultations, I have named my cabinet which consists of only 10 members. Among them is a female foreign affairs minister for the first time in Somali history," the prime minister said.

Ms Adan hails from the self-declared independent state of Somaliland and lived for a long time in Britain, the AFP reports.

"My nomination as the foreign minister is historic for the Somali country and particularly for the women of Somalia, it turns a new page for the political situation of our country and will lead to success and prosperity," she said.

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.

Around the BBC