|Home | Contact us | Links | Archives | Search|
Somali PM Names Most Of New Cabinet
Baidoa, Somalia, January 05, 2008 – Somalia's prime minister on Friday named the bulk of his new cabinet to replace one that fell apart last month over clan bickering, stalling hopes of getting the interim government moving amid an insurgency. President Abdillahi Yusuf, who approved the appointments, was in the Ethiopian capital Addis Ababa, undergoing a medical check-up a month after suffering a chest illness that sparked a health scare.
Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein appointed 15 ministers to fill an expected 18-member cabinet that is supposed to draw half its roster from outside the Parliament, in a move that Western diplomats promoted in hopes of bringing in more technocrats.
"I've appointed 15 ministers and the rest of the ministers will be appointed soon. The new ministers will be sworn in tomorrow," Hussein said in the provincial town of Baidoa, where Somalia's Parliament sits because Mogadishu is too unstable.
The list of incoming ministers was not immediately available and Hussein did not say when the last three members would be named.
In December, the career Somali public servant dissolved a bigger cabinet after five ministers and their deputies quit, saying their clans had been slighted in the appointments.
It dashed Hussein's plans to move forward after his own appointment, which followed the resignation of Ali Mohamed Gedi after a protracted political battle with Yusuf.
Aides to Yusuf blamed the stress of that tussle for the chest complaint, with some saying he was near death after he was flown last month to neighboring Kenya for treatment. He laughed off the reports.
Yusuf, 73, is a long-surviving liver transplant patient and has for years gone abroad for specialized treatment.
"The president was flown to Addis Ababa for medical reasons. He was well-dressed and he got on the plane by himself. He was not very ill," said a senior Somalia government official, who declined to be named in print.
The official said that Yusuf left on Thursday, and would be flown to Nairobi "if his condition gets serious."
Apart from the political infighting, Yusuf's administration faces a persistent insurgency in Mogadishu that has lasted since Somali soldiers with Ethiopian military backing and US logistical support ejected the militant Islamic Courts Council from the seaside capital a year ago after the group had brought the first period of stability to the capital in more than a decade.
The fighting, which has created what the UN has called Africa's worst humanitarian crisis, has killed 6,500 civilians in Mogadishu, according to a local human rights group.
The Islamist insurgency which has gained momentum of late is largely considered to be backed by the Eritrean government where members of the Islamic Court Council are thought to be living. The latent struggle between the occupying Ethiopian troops and the insurgency has threatened to rekindle violence between the two nations who have yet to agree on a border dispute which launched a disastrous two-year war between 1998 and 2000.
According to observers, more that 225,000 troops have been massed on the Ethiopian and Eritrean border. This saber-rattling, along with the recurrent violence in Sudan and the unrest in Kenya, could further destabilize the war-weary Horn of African nation.
The Islamist movement which ran most of Somalia for eight months last year had through its radical, religious-based reforms brought a semblance of normalcy to Somalia which has had no stable leadership since dictator Siyad Barre's reign ended in 1991.