MOGADISHU (Reuters) - Somalia’s prime minister unveiled his cabinet on Friday as he sought to tackle insecurity in the virtually lawless country, but some lawmakers said the new ministers might not be approved by parliament.
Left with less than a year before its mandate runs out, Somalia’s transitional federal government is struggling to oust hardline Islamist al Shabaab and Hisbul Islam insurgents who control most of southern Somalia and much of the capital Mogadishu.
The government’s control extends only to less than half of mortar-pocked Mogadishu and it relies on help from African Union (AU) peacekeepers for its survival.
“It is my honour to appoint the cabinet ministers that were expected from me,” Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed told reporters on Friday after announcing his cabinet.
It includes Finance and Treasury Minister Hussein Abdi Halane, one of two ministers retained from the previous cabinet.
But legislator Ismail Ahmed said the cabinet was unlikely to be approved as several members of the 18-strong cabinet were based outside Somalia.
“I doubt we shall approve them — because they were not selected on the basis of the constitution,” Ahmed told Reuters.
“Unfortunately, the prime minister and his cabinet ministers are from the diaspora and the president’s group — and all of them were the supporters of the former Union of Islamic courts that was led by President Sharif,” he added.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a former Islamist rebel, was chairman of the Islamic Courts Union that ran Mogadishu in 2006 before Ethiopian troops, wary of having an Islamist state next door, invaded and ousted them from power.
Prime Minister Mohamed, who took charge on November 1, also appointed Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji-Faqi, a former Somali diplomat in Canada as defence minister. He will also be one of three deputy prime ministers.
Under the terms of a 2009 U.N.-brokered peace process, the transitional federal government’s mandate expires in August 2011. By then it is supposed to have held a referendum on a new constitution and a nationwide general election.
But political analysts are pessimistic that Mohamed, a U.S.-educated former diplomat, and President Ahmed will meet that deadline.