Somali parliament elects new speaker

Mogadishu (KON) - Former cabinet minister Mohamed Osman Jawaari was elected speaker of Somalia's parliament by a majority vote on Tuesday to lay the groundwork for a new government in the war-torn Horn of Africa country.
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The next step in a Western-backed plan to end two decades of strife is the election of a president charged with the task of rebuilding institutions plagued by corruption and infighting.

Somalia has been mired in civil strife, grinding poverty, Islamist militancy and maritime piracy since warlords toppled military dictator Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991, leaving the nation without an effective central government.

Jawaari, a veteran politician and former transport minister under Barre who can speak and write in Arabic, English, Italian and Norwegian, won after the first round of voting.

His closest rival Ali Khalif Galeyr bowed out of the race after conceding defeat just before the second round of voting.

"I thank my friends who gave me the votes and all of you," Jawaari said, adding that he would give a formal speech later.

Government and African Union peacekeeping troops had tightened security around the School Poliscio, a former police training camp, where the election took place.

Galeyr said: "I hereby give up and say let my votes go to Jawaari - I congratulate him," Ali Khalif Galeyr said.

The speaker of a reformed parliament and a new president should have been elected before Aug. 20, but the deadline was missed.

The key question is whether the new government can break the pattern of ineffective interim administrations in recent years.

The election of Jawaari as speaker could be a stumbling block in the path of former speaker Sharif Hassan

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