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Politics

Somalia gets new prime minister

Somalia's president has named economist Abdi Farah Shirdon as the new prime minister. Shirdon has said he will have a zero-tolerance policy on corruption and shun political infighting.

Announcing the appointment in a statement on Saturday, President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud said he had chosen Shirdon, who studied economics at Somalia National University in the 1970s, partly because of his academic background.

"I know (Shirdon) and have selected him because he is competent. I urge the parliament and the civilians to support him," Mohamud said in the statement.

Shirdon said he would form a "quality" cabinet that would tolerate no corruption. He added that his government would steer clear of the disputes that have previously mired Somali politicians.

Together, Shirdon and Mohamud will face the challenging task of trying to set up Somalia's first effective central government since the outbreak of civil war in 1991. The country's security situation remains fragile, with Islamist insurgents controlling some regions and clan rivalry still a potent force for disruption.

The new prime minister, who is married to a Somali peace activist and member of parliament, served as an economist in the finance and agriculture ministries in the 1980s. He has also been a prominent businessman in neighboring Kenya.

tj/kms (Reuters, AP)