Acting PM confirmed as uneasy calm returns to capital

Professor Salim Aliyow Ibirow has been appointed acting prime minister of Somalia by President Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, a senior official said.

Presidential policy adviser Abdirisaq Adan Hassan told IRIN that the confirmation was made on 30 October - a day after the resignation of Ali Mohamed Gedi, who quit the leadership of the country’s transitional federal government (TFG) after an ongoing power struggle with the president.

Ibirow, a former professor at the Somali National University, is in his early 60s and was both Gedi's deputy and minister of education.

"He will preside over a caretaker cabinet until a new prime minister is appointed," said Madobe Nuunow Mohamed, the minister of information.

Under the current interim constitution, the president has 30 days to appoint a replacement for Gedi.

Meanwhile, uneasy calm had returned to the Somali capital Mogadishu after three days of heavy fighting between insurgents and allied Ethiopian-Somali government troops, which displaced thousands of civilians from their homes and left more than 30 people dead.

"We have had a very quiet night, last night [29 October] and this morning [30 October]," said a civil society source, adding that the situation had settled down after the mayor of Mogadishu retracted comments made to the local media.

Mohamed Omar Habeb, better known as Mohamed Dhere, said on 28 October that residents should leave areas where security operations were ongoing. According to a local journalist, the mayor later said "he was quoted out of context and did not mean for people to leave their homes".

Hodan, Hawl-Wadag and Wardhigley [south Mogadishu] were most affected by the latest fighting, which began on 27 October.

UN Special Representative for Somalia Ahmedou Ould-Abdallah called on the TFG to continue to seek peaceful solutions to its internal differences.

He expressed concerns over the deteriorating security and humanitarian situation caused by the violence in Mogadishu and the displacement of the civilian population.

“Having spoken to a number of the leaders, I urge all parties to immediately cease violence,” he said.

ah/sr