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In Somalia, prime minister nominee waits for parliament approval

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Ismail Taxta/Reuters

(Read caption) Somali lawmakers wave and gesture during a meeting at the Somali parliament in the capital Mogadishu on Oct. 20, 2010. The members of Parliament gathered to discuss a vote of confidence for Somalia's newly appointed Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, reported local media.

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I’ve been following the installation of the new prime minister for Somalia’s Transitional Federal Government (TFG), Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, whose predecessor departed amid infighting and controversy. Mohamed is now facing difficulties of his own:

A new political crisis appears to be brewing in Somalia, where leaders cannot agree how parliament should vote for the next prime minister.

President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed says lawmakers must cast their votes openly, while the speaker of parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, has said parliament will vote by secret ballot.

On Sunday, President Sharif called on the speaker to, in his words, uphold the law and not obstruct lawmakers from discharging their constitutional duties.

The dispute has forced repeated delay of a vote on prime minister-nominee Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.

It’s been over a month since news broke of Mohamed’s predecessor’s resignation. The delays in the hand-off, and the public bickering over procedure, are starting to belie the claims that the new appointment will streamline decision-making within the TFG. For many observers, myself included, these quarrels will diminish Mohamed’s political stature before he even begins his new job.

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Alex Thurston is a PhD student of Islam in Africa at Northwestern University and he blogs at Sahel Blog.