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Somalia takes major political step

Nov. 16, 2012 at 10:40 AM   |   Comments

UNITED NATIONS, Nov. 16 (UPI) -- World leaders hailed the swearing-in of the Cabinet of ministers presented by the new prime minister of Somalia, calling it a positive change.

Lawmakers in Somalia backed the 10-member Council of Ministers presented in early November by Prime Minister Abdi Farah Shirdon. U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, in a statement issued through his spokesman, said the measure was an important milestone in Somalia's political development.

"This marks another important step in the determined efforts by Somalia's new leadership to bring about a positive change in Somalia," Ban's message read.

The Council of Ministers includes two women -- Foreign Affairs Minister Fawzia Yusuf Haji Adan and Social Service Minister Mariam Kasim. Adan is the first woman to hold her position in the country.

Mark Toner, a spokesman for the U.S. State Department, described the endorsement of Shirdon's council as "historic and marks progress in ushering in a new era of accountable and representative leadership."

Until recently, there hasn't been a functioning central government in Somalia since the 1990s.

The government in Mogadishu has struggled to exert control as it fights for influence against al-Shabaab, a militant group allied with al-Qaida. Authority over the port city of Kismayo recently returned the government after African forces helped overrun al-Shabaab.

© 2012 United Press International, Inc. All Rights Reserved. Any reproduction, republication, redistribution and/or modification of any UPI content is expressly prohibited without UPI's prior written consent.
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