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Monday, 28 August, 2000, 12:41 GMT 13:41 UK
Somalia's new leader sworn in
Abdulkassim Salat Hassan
Mr Hassan was accompanied by neighbouring leaders
The new President of Somalia, Abdulkassim Salat Hassan, has been sworn into office at a ceremony in neighbouring Djibouti.

Several regional leaders who helped Djibouti negotiate a deal that led to the election of a new administration for Somalia were in the city of Arta for the occasion.

Mr Hassan took his vows in front of regional leaders including Ethiopian Prime Minister Meles Zenawi, Sudan's President Omar al-Beshir and Eritrean President Isaias Afwerki.

Members of the Somali transitional assembly and several thousand people also gathered in front of the white tent where the ceremony took place.

The Sudanese President, Omar Hassan al-Bashir, said he had formally recognised the new Somali state on the spot and promised financial support.

A representative from the United Nations also congratulated President Hassan but warned that he and Somalia faced formidable challenges.

Violence

Mr Hassan, 58, was elected on Friday after three rounds of voting in the 245-member assembly, which is meeting in Djibouti.

He is a veteran of the former administration of President Siad Barre, which collapsed in 1991, leaving Somalia without a central government, and ridden with inter-clan violence for nearly a decade.

He held several posts including that of minister of interior.

Mr Hassan is a member of one of the most influential clans and his election did not surprise many.

Uphill struggle

Many of Somalia's rival clan leaders have refused to accept the new parliament, seeing it as a threat to their continued domination of the country.

Somalia street scene
Most ordinary Somalis want to see authority restored
Correspondents say Mr Hassan needs all the support he can get as he faces an uphill struggle to persuade the warlords to accept the new transitional parliament.

Speaking following his victory, Mr Hassan urged all Somalis "to pray for the success of our collective mission."

Peace process

The transitional assembly's meeting and the election of Mr Hassan are the culmination of months of negotiation between different clan leaders and traditional elders, much of which took place in Djibouti.

The moves have won widespread international support, largely because talks were not allowed to be dominated by rival warlords.

There have been 12 previous attempts to restore central government to the east African country, all of which ended in failure.

However, some observers believe Mr Hassan has more of a chance of success than his predecessors, as he is a member of the Hawiye clan, which dominates Mogadishu.


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See also:

26 Aug 00 | Africa
Old hand Hassan is new president
24 Jul 00 | Africa
Government-in-exile for Somalia?
09 Aug 00 | Africa
Somalia talks money runs out
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