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The Canadian son of a murdered former president of Somalia has been nominated to be prime minister in a new power-sharing government mandated to end civil conflict there.

Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, 48, is the son of Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, an elected president shot dead in 1969 before a military coup.

He has degrees in political science and political economy from Carleton University, holds Canadian citizenship and has worked with the United Nations in Sudan and Sierra Leone. His family is based in the United States.

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The nomination came from President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed, a member of Somalia's Hawiye ethnic group. Mr. Sharmarke is a member of the Darod ethnic group.

According to Somalia's transitional charter, the president, the prime minister and the parliamentary speaker have to belong to three different major clans.

News of the nomination was followed shortly by the release of a Web video by a top al-Qaeda figure calling for attacks against Somalia's moderate government.

"The Somali people are not interested in having a government which is beset by infighting instead of helping the people. And I will closely work with the Somali people and Parliament," Mr. Sharmarke said in a brief acceptance speech.

He also acknowledged the numerous challenges faced by his country that have ended 14 attempts to create a stable government in Somalia since 1991.

And this political instability has enabled the country's 3,057-kilometre coastline along the Horn of Africa to be overtaken by pirates who made off with up to $80-million in ransoms over the past year.

A tense four-month stand-off ended just last week when Somali pirates released a Ukrainian freighter loaded with Soviet-designed tanks for a $3.2-million (U.S.) ransom.

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President Ahmed, a young Islamist cleric who was elected by Parliament late last month, may be looking to garner international backing for his fledgling government through Mr. Sharmarke's nomination.

Parliament is expected to ratify Mr. Sharmarke's nomination today.

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