First Published: 2008-10-31

Somali PM pledges to form new cabinet

Hussein says he is going to establish new cabinet within two weeks, excluding ministers who resigned.


Middle East Online

Hussein survived a no-confidence vote last month

NAIROBI - Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein pledged Friday to form a new cabinet within two weeks in line with a directive from regional presidents and to try and save his troubled government.

The Somali cabinet collapsed in August when several ministers quit amid infighting between Hussein and President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, paralysing government and parliamentary operations.

"We are going to establish a cabinet within 15 days, but without including ministers who resigned from my government. This is an accordance with IGAD (Inter-Governmental Authority on Development) directive," he told reporters in Nairobi.

"The new government will work together in order to make progress in security, development and reconstruction in our country," he added.

On Wednesday, IGAD presidents told Somali rulers to form a new cabinet to avoid a power vacuum.

Hussein also said he would pressure parliament to finalise the drafting of a new constitution as well as to enact electoral and political parties' laws within six months in line with the IGAD directive.

The Federal Transitional Charter, which gives the current government a governing mandate, expires in September next year. Attempts to write a new Somali constitution have been thwarted by conflict and political feuds.

"The constitution will be drafted very soon and subjected to a referendum," Hussein said.

The Ethiopian army invaded Somalia in late 2006 to rescue Somalia's embattled transitional government and oust the Islamic Courts Union (ICU), which controlled of much of the country's central and southern regions.

The ICU had ruled much of Somalia with relative peace and prosperity until the Ethiopian involvement.

Since then, ICU fighters have waged a deadly insurgency against the Ethiopian and the transitional government forces.

But Ethiopian troops retaliations have caused many casualties among Somali civilians.

Since the Ethiopian invasion, about one million Somalis have fled their homes. An estimated 6,500 civilians have been killed.

Aid workers estimate 2.6 million Somalis need assistance. That number is expected to reach 3.5 million by the end of the year if the humanitarian situation does not improve, according to the UN.

In May 2008, Amnesty International accused the Ethiopian troops in Somalia of increasingly resorting to throat-slitting executions, highlighting an "increasing incidence" of gruesome methods by Ethiopian forces that include rape and torture.

Since the ousting of the ICU, Somalia had plunged into unprecedented chaos, where warlords and pirates have returned to the scene.

Many in Somalia see the departure of Ethiopian troops as a precondition to peace negotiations.


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