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Somalia's president appoints new PM after nearly 2-months of delay

By Staff reporter , Garowe Online

MOGADISHU, Somalia - Somalia's President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo nominated Mohamed Hussein Roble as a substantive Prime Minister, almost 56 days after the unprecedented removal of Hassan Ali Khaire, who has since declared interest in the country's presidency, effectively ending the long wait.

Khaire, an oil executive, was hounded from office in what critics related to unending political conflicts in Somalia, with sources indicating that his push for timely elections may have cost him his job. The former PM was a respected figure within the circles of the international community.

But the delayed appointment of a substantive PM had caused rifts in the Horn of Africa nation, as political analysts questioned the legality of deals signed by Mahdi Mohamed Guled, the Deputy Prime Minister, who was installed as temporary PM after Khaire's exit.

The Forum for National Parties [FNP], a conglomerate of six opposition parties, on Tuesday, called for an expedited process in the appointment of the Prime Minister, arguing that the delays could paralyze government operations. The Prime Minister is responsible for the running of the government.

In a statement, FNP said it sees "irresponsibility and dictatorship" that Somalia to be without a government for 56 days, adding that "the president got absolute power, aims to realize his personal interest". All work is done by the current cabinet, it said, is "unconditional and inapplicable".

The caretaker PM, the opposition party said, does not have absolute powers to run the government operations. The provisional constitution provides that a new Prime Minister forms government through the appointment of ministers who help to fulfill some of the agenda the administration may have set.

After Khaire's exit, Farmajo promised to ensure the appointment of the replacement is done "soonest". But since then, he has rarely spoken about the void, with sources indicating that the clan matrixes and the current political climate have necessitated wider consultations before a final decision is made.

But on Thursday, Farmajo appointed Hussein, who will now be vetted by the Lower House, which is controlled by the ruling elites. Abdinur Mohamed, the Deputy Chief of Staff, welcomed the appointment of Hussein, adding that he was optimistic that he will serve the country with distinction.

"Congrats to our newly appointed Prime Minister H.E Mohamed Hussein Roble. I am sure you’ll serve our country with distinction. Wishing you a successful tenure," he noted on his Twitter handle.

Born in 1963 at Hobyo, Galmadug state, Hussein started an engineering course at the Somali National University in 1990 before joining the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden later. He has served in the Somali development sector in youth empowerment, trade, investment, infrastructure, and rebuilding process, Abdinur added.

His predecessor, Hassan Ali Khaire has congratulated the new premier and asked the public to stand with him.

"Congratulations to the new Prime Minister, His Excellency Mohamed Hussein Roble. I pray to God to make it easier for him to take responsibility and succeed in his mission. I call on all Somalis to stand by him," Khaire tweeted.  

A pretty new face in Somalia politics, Hussein was most recently working at the International Labour Organization in Nairobi, Kenya. He comes from the Sa'ad, a sub-Habar Gadir clan in Central Somalia, and is also well respected within the international community circles just like his predecessor.

Initially, there were reports that Farmajo would have gone for a member of the opposition for a Government of National Unity, but the idea may have collapsed after consultation. Abdimalik Abdullahi, an analyst, says clans play an integral role in Somali politics and Farmajo may have been influenced by the dominance of the new PM's clan.

"Clan affiliations are fundamental in Somali politics. There is no shame in mentioning it. Rather, it is literally mandatory to mention," says Abdullahi, who is a persistent critic of the former PM over what he refers to as having a "bad attitude and causing rifts among workers".

The appointment comes hours after stakeholders in the country reached a historical pre-election deal, which effectively ended the brewing political crisis. The PM would serve until February next year when the country will pick a new president, who will be mandated to pick another PM for the formation of a new government.