The UN Security Council on Tuesday welcomed the election of moderate Islamist leader Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed as Somalia's president and urged him to set up a government of national unity as soon as possible.
A non-binding statement read out by Japan's UN Ambassador Yukio Takasu, the council chair this month, said the 15 members called on Sheikh Sharif "to constitute a government of national unity at the earliest possible date" and urged all Somalis to back the transitional federal institutions.
The council members also expressed concern about the humanitarian situation in Somalia and condemned violence directed at civilians, African Union peacekeepers and humanitarian workers.
Because of insecurity inside Somalia, Sheikh Sharif was elected in neighboring Djbouti by his country's lawmakers Saturday, in a move hailed by many as a chance to break the political deadlock and curb raging civil violence.
His predecessor, Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, resigned last month following a bitter power struggle, after his attempt to sack and replace the prime minister in defiance of lawmakers failed.
A former geography teacher educated in Sudan and Libya, Sheikh Sharif ran as the head of the Alliance for the Re-liberation of Somalia (ARS), an Islamist-dominated opposition umbrella formed in 2007.
The new Somali president is often regarded as one of the only men whose clan base and political skills are solid enough to bring about change in the war-ravaged country.
Somalia has had no effective central authority since the 1991 ouster of former president Mohamed Siad Barre touched off a bloody cycle of clashes between rival factions.