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Somali lawmakers approve new prime minister

By the CNN Wire Staff
October 17, 2012 -- Updated 1458 GMT (2258 HKT)
Somalia's newly appointed prime minister Abdi Farah Shirdon pictured on October 6, 2012.
Somalia's newly appointed prime minister Abdi Farah Shirdon pictured on October 6, 2012.
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Abdi Farah Shirdon receives 215 out of 275 votes from parliament
  • His appointment follows that of a new president last month
  • Somalia is setting up an effective central government following decades of civil war
  • Shirdon says his government will do more to ensure security and to combat terrorism

Mogadishu, Somalia (CNN) -- Somalia's parliament voted by an overwhelming majority to approve Abdi Farah Shirdon as the country's new prime minister Wednesday.

Shirdon, who was the president's nominee, received 215 out of 275 votes.

His appointment comes as the nation works to set up an effective central government following two decades of civil war.

Shirdon, an economist who ran an import business in neighboring Kenya, was nominated by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud this month.

Shirdon will now form a Cabinet -- the first of its kind in Somalia in more than 20 years.

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Speaking to parliamentarians at the session, Shirdon said his government will do more to ensure the security of the country and to fight against terrorism and piracy.

His appointment is the latest in a series of political transitions. In recent months, Somalia has also adopted a provisional constitution, selected members of parliament and appointed that body's speaker.

Read more: Somali lawmakers pick president in landmark vote

The new leaders face the daunting task of propping up Somalia's first effective central government since 1991.

Somalia plunged into chaos after dictator Mohamed Siad Barre was overthrown 21 years ago. Following his ouster, clan warlords and militants battled for control, sparking a civil war and mayhem nationwide.

The nation since then has mostly been under a shaky transitional federal government.

Read more: Member of Somali's new parliament gunned down

Even though insurgents have fled the capital and guns have fallen silent, portions of the nation remain lawless.

African Union and Somali troops are battling militants from Al-Shabaab, an al Qaeda-linked group that controls part of the nation's south.

The troops have driven the militants out of various areas, including the lucrative port city of Kismayo and the capital, Mogadishu. Life is slowly returning to normal as coalition forces exert control in more regions.

In remarks at the United Nations Tuesday, the special representative of the U.N. secretary-general for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga, hailed the progress made.

"The fall of Kismayo, the last stronghold of the extremist Al-Shabaab insurgents in late September, marked a decisive turning point in the conflict," he said.

Mahiga said the next challenge will be to maintain security and stability in Kismayo and other areas newly liberated from Al-Shabaab.

He called for more international support for AMISOM, the African Union's peacekeeping mission in Somalia, in its efforts to keep Somalia's coastal waters secure. This is necessary for commercial reasons, to interrupt Al-Shabaab's supply lines and to deter piracy, he said.

Journalist Omaar Nur and CNN's Pierre Meilhan contributed to this report.

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