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Page last updated at 18:16 GMT, Friday, 13 February 2009

New Somali prime minister named

By Kevin Mwachiro
BBC News, Nairobi

Somali President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed
President Ahmed said he was confident in the PM's ability "to serve his nation"

Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has chosen Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke to be the country's new prime minister.

Mr Sharmarke, a former diplomat, is widely seen as a bridge between Islamists within the government and the international community.

The fact that he holds both Canadian and Somali citizenship leaves him free of the explosive politics in Somalia.

His appointment is the 15th attempt to resolve Somalia's 18-year-old conflict.

"I will continue to promote reconciliation and create a sense of unity among Somalis," Mr Sharmarke said in his acceptance speech.

"The Somali people are not interested in having a government which is beset by infighting instead of helping the people. And I will closely work with the Somali people and parliament," he said.

Hard work

The appointment of Mr Sharmarke seems to have ticked all the right boxes.

His father was Somalia's first civilian president and is still fondly remembered.

He is from the Darod clan, ensuring that the country's three major clans are represented in the country's struggling leadership, and he also enjoys widespread support from parliamentarians and Somalis living at home and abroad.

More importantly, he and the newly-elected president seem to get along.

But now the hard work begins for Somalia's new leadership.

Mr Sharmarke has a month to appoint a new cabinet, which will have to be approved by parliament, and then there is the issue of how to deal with the radical Islamist group al-Shabab.

The insurgents have denounced the country's new administration as being anti-Islamists.

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