Somali prime minister appoints new Cabinet

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MOGADISHU, Somalia (AP) — Somalia's prime minister unveiled his new Cabinet Tuesday, weeks after he withdrew his initial line-up following opposition by the parliament.

Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke appointed a 20-member Cabinet, mostly political newcomers, downsizing the number from the 26-member body that was dissolved earlier this month.

Somalia's president appointed Sharmarke after the parliament ousted his predecessor, Abdiweli Sheikh Ahmed, in December, capping off a long-standing feud between Ahmed and President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Last week the U.N., the European Union, the regional bloc IGAD, the African Union Mission in Somalia, the United States and Britain expressed concern over delays in the implementation of a plan to rebuild war-torn Somalia due to the political crisis.

Shamarke — who was prime minister in a previous administration — and his Cabinet face major challenges, including an insurgency by Islamist militant group al-Shabab and rebuilding the country from decades of conflict.

The United States and the U.N., among others, have warned that the political infighting in Somalia is putting at risk the recent security gains made in the country. Somalia plunged into chaos after the 1991 ouster of dictator Siad Barre. The country's weak government is currently being supported by African Union troops against the insurgency by al-Shabab.

The U.S. State Department declared al-Shabab a terrorist organization in February 2008.

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