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Last Updated: Thursday, 16 September, 2004, 01:08 GMT 02:08 UK
Somalia's MPs elect new speaker
Shariff Hassan Sheikh Adan (right) takes his oath of office
Adan (right) promised to work to get the government on its feet
Somalia's new parliament has elected a speaker, bringing the war-torn nation a step closer to establishing its first central government in 13 years.

Businessman Shariff Hassan Sheikh Adan was elected to the post with 161 votes, ahead of his nearest rival's 105 votes.

In all, 267 MPs voted during a six-hour session in neighbouring Kenya's capital looked on by observers and mediators.

Somalia has been without a government since 1991, when dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was ousted from power.

There was applause and cheers when the announcement of Mr Adan's victory was announced.

"What is of paramount importance is that Somalia gets a government to stand on its feet again," he told the MPs.

"The exercise was very democratic... I promise to work with all those who voted for and against me."

Based in Somalia and Dubai, with three wives and 22 children, Mr Adan earlier told reporters he was a relative newcomer to politics.


The election of a speaker clears the way for MPs to vote for a president, due on 22 September.

Members of the new Somali parliament in session

The president will have the task of forming an interim government with a view to holding elections in five years' time.

The BBC's Somali section editor, Yusuf Garaad, says the challenges facing the new government are tough.

The Somali capital, Mogadishu, is controlled by opposing armed groups, there are disputes over private properties and farms looted during the civil war, as well as the complication of the breakaway Republic of Somaliland.

But he says analysts believe there are reasons to be optimistic with many armed faction leaders, formerly an obstacle to peace, now on board, and neighbouring countries now backing the process.


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