Somalia Appoints New Prime Minister
Michael Onyiego | Nairobi June 23, 2011
Somalia's Transitional Federal Government has named a Somali-American Economist as the next Prime Minister.
President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed has chosen Abdiweli Mohamed Ali to replace Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as prime minister. Ali has been serving as acting prime minister since the resignation of Mohamed on Sunday.
Speaking in Mogadishu, President Ahmed called Ali a good man and said he hoped he would improve the situation in Somalia.
A spokesman for the government, Abdifatah Abdinur, told VOA that Ali was chosen for his experience in the government and his extensive qualifications. “He is a very charismatic leader. He is one of the best educated men that we have in our country. He is experienced in the whole situation in Somalia and he was also playing a big role for the last administration. He is exactly what the country needs," he said.
Ali served as Minister for Planning and International Cooperation and as Deputy Prime Minister.
Ali, like his predecessor, is an American citizen who earned a living teaching in the Buffalo, New York area before returning to Somalia. He was a professor of economics at Niagara University, holds a masters degree from Harvard University and earned his doctorate in Economics from George Mason University.
Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed was forced out of the office by a deal struck in Kampala between President Ahmed and Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden.
Ahmed and Aden had been engaged in a power-struggle over the future of the Somalia government. The TFG’s mandate was originally set to expire in August of this year, but the two agreed on a one-year extension on the mandates of both Parliament and the Federal Institutions in order to move the Somali government out of its transitional phase.
Mohamed’s resignation was reportedly a key demand made by the speaker, who was often at odds with the former prime minister during his seven-month tenure.
The deal provoked riots and demonstrations throughout southern Somalia, with many citizens angry over Mohamed’s ouster. While initially unwilling to resign, the popular prime minister eventually capitulated to pressure from the president and speaker and stepped down Sunday.
Mohamed was seen by average Somalis as a serious reformer who regularized pay for soldiers and civil servants and reopened schools within the war-torn capital, Mogadishu. But some observers believe he provoked the ire of Speaker Aden by failing to involve him in the formation of the Somali Cabinet.
Internationally, Mohamed received praise for abandoning the traditional clan-balancing formula and building a small, technocrat-heavy team.
A statement released by the Somali government said the new prime minister was “expected to consult with members of parliament and clan elders” as he forms his own Cabinet in the coming weeks.
Somalia has not had a functioning government since the overthrow of Mohamed Siad Barre in 1991. Since 2007, the government has been battling al Qaida-linked islamist insurgent group al Shabab for control of southern Somalia. The group controls much of the region, including part of the capital, Mogadishu, though government forces, backed by African Union troops, have made measurable gains in recent months.
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