Somali members of parliament gathered at the presidential palace in the capital, Mogadishu, Sunday and overwhelmingly endorsed new Cabinet ministers appointed by Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre last week. During the vote, several mortar explosions hit the capital.
Somali parliament speaker Adan Mohamed Nur Madobe told the gathering at the palace’s highly fortified villa Hargaisa that 229 members of parliament voted in favor of the Cabinet, seven voted against it and one abstained.
Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre addressed parliament after the vote and welcomed the outcome.
He said, “I want to pledge another time that we will work on how to help our people who are facing droughts, to work on security and implement our program that is in front of you while we are working with unity and accountability to overcome all the challenges we are facing. I want to thank you again for your overwhelming approval.”
Among the ministers whom parliament endorsed was Mukhtar Robow Ali, known as Abu Munsor— the former deputy leader and spokesman in militant group al-Shabab. He is now becoming the religious affairs minister.
Mursal Mohamed Khaliif, a member of the federal parliament, spoke to VOA about the approval process.
“Despite a handful of members of parliament trying to create chaos during the proceedings, the overwhelming majority of parliamentarians, 229 of them, voted in favor of approving the new Cabinet. I am very excited to have been a part of those proceedings and I wish all the new Cabinet success in executing their duties,” he said.
Anwar Abdifatah Bashir, a lecturer at Somali National University and a Horn of Africa political analyst, VOA by phone that the new government is taking over at a crucial time.
“This comes as Somalia is facing a number of challenges including, but not limited, to protracted drought, insecurity within the country, as well as the border with Ethiopia where al-Shabab recently attacked in the Somali region in Ethiopia,” he said.
During the vote in the capital, several mortar shells hit the city.
Eyewitness in Mogadishu’s Warta Nabada neighborhood told VOA that several rounds of shells landed near the presidential palace.
A police officer confirmed the attack to VOA but declined to give details on casualties.
Al-Shabab claimed responsibility and said it had shelled the palace with seven mortar rounds.
Meanwhile, in the town of Jowhar, the capital of Somalia’s Hirshabele state, a bomb blast near a hotel that al-Shabab attacked last month wounded at least five people, including a soldier, two children and two women. No one has claimed responsibility.
Ibrahim Ali Nur, a local journalist in the town, spoke with VOA and said the explosion destroyed several properties. Jowhar is an agricultural town located 90 kilometers north of Mogadishu.