Somali parliament endorses new PM

Somalia’s parliament on Wednesday endorsed a new prime minister, appointed last week after the war-torn country’s president fell out with the previous premier amid bitter infighting.

Political heavyweight Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, 54, becomes the first person to hold the post twice and was given unanimous approval, parliament speaker Mohamed Osman Jawari said.

“There is huge task ahead of the endorsed prime minister including the formation of a quality cabinet,” the speaker added.

Sharmarke, a dual Canadian and Somali national, replaces sacked prime minster Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, ousted by parliament after just over a year in the post and following a falling out with President Hassan Sheik Mohamud.

The United Nations, United States and European Union — all key backers of Somalia’s fragile government — have all warned that power struggles in Mogadishu were a damaging distraction for the country as it tries to battle Al-Qaeda-affiliated Shebab rebels.

United Nations special envoy Nicholas Kay also said the tensions put at risk political goals including a referendum on a new constitution due to take place next year, ahead of elections in 2016.

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