Omer Abdirashid is the new Somali PM
DJIBOUTI, Feb 13 Somalia's president has chosen Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, the U.S.-based son of a slain former leader, to be prime minister in a unity government intended to end civil war, government sources said.
President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed's nomination was formally announced on Friday in Djibouti, where Somali politicians are meeting, several senior government aides said.
Sharmarke, who has held various U.N. posts and was educated in the United States, is the son of Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, an elected president who was assassinated in 1969 during a military coup.
He is a member of the Darod ethnic group, whereas Ahmed is Hawiye. Somalia's government is meant to share key positions among the major communities who live in Somalia but non from Somaliland which declared independence in 1991.
By choosing Sharmarke, Ahmed will hope to win support from the Somali diaspora and also bolster international support for his fledgling government, which has been set up under a U.N.-brokered peace process in Djibouti.
The major challenge for both president and prime minister will be to face the threat of armed Islamist insurgents in Somalia led by the Al Shabaab group, which is on Washington's list of terrorist organisations.
Al Shabaab says Ahmed's government is an illegitimate "puppet" administration put together by foreign powers. Although Ahmed is a moderate Islamist who used to lead a sharia courts movement in Somalia, al Shabaab denounces him as anti-Islamic.