New Somali President Arrives to Face Rivals
Somalia's first president since 1991, Abdoulkassim Salat Hassan, landed in Somalia Wednesday morning, returning home to face fierce opposition from warlords to his bid to establish a central government.
On his arrival, Salat was greeted by thousands of flag-waving civilians and headed for the capital, Mogadishu, some 90 kilometers (55 miles) to the east, in a convoy made up of about 100 well-armed pick-up trucks known as "technicals."
Gunmen controlling the Russian-built military air base at Balidogle had been loyal to prominent Mogadishu warlord Hussein Mohamed Aidid but in recent days switched allegiance to Salat.
Salat, who was sworn in Sunday in Arta, Djibouti, is likely to face severe opposition from warlords who have condemned the Djibouti-led peace and reconciliation process which led to his election by members of a new national assembly.
Ali Khalif, who is tipped to be the new prime minister, accompanied the new president.
Salat told the assembly in his inaugural address Tuesday that one of the main priorities of his future government will be to disarm militias and offer their members vocational training.
But in a sign of the problems ahead for Salat, Somalia's clan-based armed factions and warlords met Monday in Mogadishu to decide how to prevent the new president from establishing a government in Somalia.
Since the 1991 overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre, Somalia has lacked a central government and the nation has been ruled by rival warlords.
Salat, 58, a member of the dominant Hawiye clan, is the second Somali president to be elected since Barre's fall from power -- BALIDOGLE, Somalia (AFP)
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