Somalia mourns death of two former leaders
MOGADISHU, Somalia - Two prominent Somali politicians have died on Saturday in quick succession, years after exiting active in the politics, where they cemented their legacies separately as nationalists who believed in the unity and prosperity of the Horn of Africa nation.
In Ankara, Turkey, former Prime Minister Hassan Abshir Farah, who served between 2001-2003 in the Transitional Government which was established in Arta, Djibouti, died after battling with an unspecified disease for a long time, authorities confirmed.
According to his relatives, the former PM, 77, had been ailing for years in the Turkish capital before he made a final bow on Saturday. The family described him as "the industrious man who put the lives of Somalis ahead of everything he did", adding that "he will be greatly missed".
Before serving as PM, Farah served as Mogadishu mayor during the reigns of dictator Siad Barre, who was toppled in 1991. He also served as minister for interior in Puntland, one of the first federal states of Somalia, which was established in 1998 after years of turmoil.
As a nationalist, Farah helped former President Abdullakim Salad Hassan to push for national reconciliation before their exit in 2004. He would later serve as a federal MP before leaving Somalia for Turkey, one of Somalia's most trusted partners at the global stage.
He has been leading a quiet life after exiting active politics but he's said to have been among the statesmen who persuaded Turkey to increase its support to the Horn of Africa nation, which has failed to form a stable and functional government since the ouster of Siad Barre.
In Nairobi, former president of Puntland Mohamed Abdi Hashi who also served as Vice President in the region, also died after a battle with a disease, Puntland President Said Abdullahi Deni confirmed on Sunday in a press statement dispatched to media houses.
Hashi served as the president of Puntland between 2004 and 2005 when Somalia was entering into a new Transitional Government. He replaced Abdullahi Yusuf Ahmed, who became the president of Somalia from 2004 to 2008 in a setup crafted by the African Union.
Deni said: "I extend my condolences and those of Puntland people for the loss of founding fathers Mohamed Abdi Hashi. He served the people with dedication, integrity, and adorable character. We wish his family God's comfort during this difficult time."
Since it's formation in 1998, Puntland remains one of the most stable Federal states in Somalia. Al-Shabaab militants who have been wreaking havoc across the country have often found it difficult to invade territories of Puntland, which has a formidable security force.
Their deaths come at the time Somalia is struggling to find a common ground on the model and date for elections that are supposed to be held this year. Both federal states and the opposition accuse the federal government of plotting for term extensions.
On Sunday, federal states issued a communique after three days meeting in Galmadug where they insisted that the leadership should reach a compromise on the model to be used. They ruled out universal suffrage polls citing time constraints as the major hindrance.