Somali PM unveils new cabinet, hints at talks with Islamists

Somali Prime Minister Nur Hassan Hussein on Sunday announced a new government and indicated for the first time that he might be ready for talks with Islamist fighters.

 Somali PM unveils new cabinet, hints at talks with Islamists

The 31 ministers, 11 state ministers and 31 assistant ministers were sworn in at the Villa Somalia presidential palace in Mogadishu.

Salim Ali Ibrow, former second deputy prime minister, was elevated to deputy premier.

Mohamed Ali Hamud and former police commissioner Abdirahman Abdi Hussein -- who are not members of parliament -- were made foreign and information minister respectively. It was the first time non-lawmakers were brought in.

"I believe they are the best people for the positions they are taking," Hussein said while handing over the cabinet list to President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed.

Yusuf, a former warlord in charge of the northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland, urged ministers to work honestly as his administration struggles to restore stability.

"Take your positions and start your job as soon as you are announced. I hope you will work for your country honestly," Yusuf told the ministers.

A key upset Sunday was the omission of influential former deputy prime minister Abdullahi Sheikh Osmail from the cabinet.

Sea and air transport deputy minister Mohamed Sheikh Abadir and deputy defence minister Salad Ali Jelle are the only pro-Gedi ministers who survived the reshuffle.

Hussein became the second premier in Yusuf's three-year-old Ethiopia-backed transitional government.

Husein has hinted at launching talks with the Islamist leaders based in the Eritrean capital Asmara.

"We are ready to speak with the Asmara group as long as they are ready to discuss with us," Hussein said in an interview Kenya's NTV television.

"We are not naming anyone from the opposition leaders, but we are ready for positive advice and criticism," added Hussein, while conceding that naming the cabinet was a "challenge."

The Islamists, who governed much of Somalia for six months before they were ousted in January, have repeatedly warned that will not talk with the government while Ethiopian troops remain in the country.


Agencies

Güncelleme Tarihi: 03 Aralık 2007, 18:16
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