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Saturday, 26 August, 2000, 01:30 GMT 02:30 UK
Old hand Hassan is new president
Mothers and children in Baidoa, March 2000
Ordinary Somalis want peace
Somalia's transitional parliament has elected a new president - the first since the collapse of the central government in the country nearly 10 years ago.

Abdulkasim Salad Hassan, 58, beat his closest rival, Abdullah Ahmed Addow by 145 votes to 92. The winner needed a simple majority of 123 votes in the 245-seat assembly.

Mr Hassan is a veteran politician who served as a cabinet minister in several Somali governments before collapse of President Siad Barre's regime in 1991.

That triggered a civil war between rival clan-based factions. Mr Hassan is a member of the Hawiye clan, one of the strongest in the country.

The parliament has set itself up in neighbouring Djibouti, but already one of the most powerful of Somalia's faction leaders, Hussein Mohammed Aideed, has said he will not recognise it.

Autonomy threat

Somalia remains divided between rival clan-based factions, and has not had a president or a central government since the collapse of the Siad Barre regime.

The latest drive to restore a government to the lawless country, sponsored by Djibouti's President, Ismael Omar Guelleh, follows 12 previous unsuccessul attempts.

Mr Hassan is due to be sworn in on Sunday, and regional leaders including Kenya's President Daniel arap Moi and Sudan's President Omar al-Bashir are expected to attend.

However the leaders of Somaliland and Puntland, two regions in northern Somalia, are opposed to the new authority, and view it as a threat to their relative stability and autonomy.

Correspondents say the success of the new government and its president now depends heavily on it receiving the backing of the faction leaders.


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See also:

24 Jul 00 | Africa
Government-in-exile for Somalia?
09 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia talks money runs out
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