The United Nations top political official for Somalia Tuesday welcomed the recent endorsement by the East African country's parliament of a new cabinet, the so-called Council of Ministers.
"This is another important milestone in the history of Somalia - the appointment of clean slate of just ten Ministers conclusively demonstrates the will of the Somali leadership to move away from the mindset of the past and bring about positive change," said the Secretary-General's Special Representative for Somalia, Augustine Mahiga.
"I am particularly pleased with the historic appointments of two women to substantive high profile as Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign Affairs and Minister of Development and Social Services," he added in a news release issued by the UN Political Office for Somalia (UNPOS), which he also heads.
Somalia's Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon, announced the composition of the Council of Ministers - equivalent to a cabinet of ministers - on Nov 4.
The person selected as Deputy Prime Minister/Minister of Foreign Affairs in the 10-member body is Fauzia Yusuf Haji Adan, reportedly the first time a woman has held such a senior position in the Horn of Africa nation.
According to media reports, 219 parliamentarians endorsed the cabinet in a vote Tuesday, with three votes against and three abstentions; and, the Council of Ministers is expected to be sworn in next week.
In his remarks, Mahiga commended Prime Minister Shirdon, as well as President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, for their consultations with a wide cross-section of Somali society, both inside and outside of the country, in the lead-up to the appointment of "this inclusive Cabinet which bears all positive hallmarks of a potential good government."
"It was a remarkable exercise in confidence building," the envoy said. "The new Council of Ministers represents a broad spectrum of political shades and membership while taking clan balance, equality and representation into account. It also reflects the cultural and social realities of today's Somalia."
After decades of factional fighting and lawlessness, the East Africa country has been undergoing a peace and national reconciliation process, with a series of landmark steps in recent months that have helped to bring an end to the country's nine-year political transition period. These steps included the adoption of a Provisional Constitution, the establishment of a new Parliament and the appointments of a new President and a new Prime Minister.
"I congratulate all the new Ministers and wish them every success in the hard tasks that lie ahead." Mahiga added. "UNPOS will continue to work with our Somali partners to improve the Government's capacity, enhance political reconciliation, strengthen the security and judiciary sectors and to facilitate reconstruction, especially in the recently recovered areas in accordance with the President´s six pillar policy."
According to comments made by a Somali representative to the UN Security Council in October, President Mohamud's six pillar policy aims to secure progress in the areas of stability, economic recovery, peacebuilding, service delivery, international relations and unity.
The Secretary-General's Special Representative also commended the members of the Somali Federal Parliament for debating the cabinet´s nominations and work programme in a "transparent, democratic and open manner," describing their vote of confidence as signifying the start of a "healthy relationship between the new executive and legislative institutions in Somali politics."