DJIBOUTI (AP) – Somalia’s parliament has elected a moderate Islamist leader as the country’s new president.

Sheikh Sharif Sheik Ahmed now has the elusive task of stabilizing a country wracked by violence and anarchy for nearly 20 years. He was elected early Saturday.

But the Western-backed government wields little control in Somalia – just a few blocks of the capital, Mogadishu, where African Union peacekeepers patrol. An Islamic insurgent group called al-Shabab, who say they don’t recognize the government, have taken over most of Somalia.

The U.S. considers al-Shabab a terror organization with links to al-Qaida.

Somalia’s parliament has been meeting all week in neighboring Djibouti to choose the new president.

AP-ES-01-30-09 2323EST

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