Somalia opposition lawmakers welcome cabinet recall

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Somalia ParliamnetSabahi – Somali lawmakers welcomed Prime Minister Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke’s cabinet recall, calling the move courageous and a show of good faith.

In a letter to lawmakers read aloud by Speaker of Parliament Mohamed Osman Jawari Saturday (January 17th), the prime minister said he decided to retract his cabinet nominees after careful consideration of the “feelings and emotions” of opposing lawmakers. Sharmarke dissolved his 60-member cabinet, unveiled less than a week ago, at the weekend after a crescendo in opposition threatened its confirmation.

The cabinet line-up comprised 26 ministers, 25 deputies and nine state ministers, an increase of five posts from the previous cabinet, with many former ministers returning to power including key allies of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud such as Farah Sheikh Abdulkadir and Abdikarim Hussein Guled.

In his letter to lawmakers, Sharmarke asked for an additional 14 days to select a more inclusive cabinet.

“I will nominate a cabinet that will be acceptable to this parliament and representative of the will of the people of Somalia,” he said. “I will also consider the diverse opinions of the lawmakers in order to present them a cabinet that can earn the confidence of the parliament.”

The prime minister’s request was approved overwhelmingly, with 190 lawmakers voting in favour of the extension, ten against it and two abstaining from the vote.

Lawmaker Mohamed Omar Dalha called Sharmarke’s move “courageous” and praised the prime minister for his willingness to acknowledge dissenting opinions and to take them seriously.

“This time around he must form a government that can receive the confidence of the people and the parliament of Somalia,” Dalha told Sabahi, adding that lawmakers expect the cabinet nominees to be well qualified and worthy of their positions.

“The people he will choose shall not be selected based on nepotism,” he said. “That could spark another political crisis that this country cannot endure at this time.”

“At the same time, he must have some independence to choose his cabinet because ultimately he will be the one that will be held accountable for its failures or successes,” he added.

Lawmaker Abdiwali Mohamed Qanyare, one the 80 lawmakers initially opposed to Sharmarke’s cabinet nominees, also welcomed the prime minister’s move but expressed cautious optimism, saying Sharmarke had not yet reached out to opposition lawmakers for one-on-one consultations.

“What we have been wanting all along is for Somalia to have a government that is inclusive and able to take the nation forward, and that can only be achieved if there is a government representative of the various political views that exist in Somalia,” he told Sabahi.

Qanyare said he looks forward to the prime minister meeting with lawmakers soon.

“The identity of the individual tapped for the post is not important, what is important is [considering] what that person can do for the country and if they are qualified for the job. That [criteria] is something that can satisfy all citizens and lawmakers” he said.

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