Somalia's PM given 10 more days to form government

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Somalia's parliament agreed on Monday to give Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre more time to form a government, a month after his appointment in the Horn of Africa nation.

Barre was initially expected to name a cabinet within 30 days of his appointment on June 25 but said the delays were due to the country's protracted election process that culminated in May with the selection of Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as president.

"In order to form a... balanced government, it is necessary that I spend sufficient time in consultations with various politicians of the country and civil society," Barre said in a statement released on Monday.

Observers have voiced hope that Mohamud's presidency will draw the line under a political crisis that blighted the rule of his predecessor Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known as Farmajo, and threatened to plunge Somalia back into violent chaos.

Barre vowed to establish a government within 10 days after parliament approved the extension.

A "credible" extension according to Mohamed Dhabancad, one of the legislators. "The Prime minister is in consultation with other stakeholders", the lawmaker told reporters.

The new government will face a host of challenges, including a looming famine and a grinding Islamist insurgency.

A crippling drought across the Horn of Africa has left about 7.1 million Somalis -- nearly half the population -- battling hunger, with more than 200,000 on the brink of starvation, according to UN figures.

The Al-Qaeda-linked Al-Shabaab also continues to flex its muscles by carrying out deadly attacks, underscoring the difficult task ahead for the country's new leaders.

The militants were driven out of the capital Mogadishu in 2011 by an African Union force but still control swathes of countryside and frequently strike civilian and military targets.

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