News / Africa

Somalia's New Prime Minister Under Scrutiny

Newly appointed Prime Minister for Somalia Mohamed Abdulahi speaks during a briefing at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, 14 Oct. 2010
Newly appointed Prime Minister for Somalia Mohamed Abdulahi speaks during a briefing at the presidential palace in Mogadishu, 14 Oct. 2010

Somalia's newly-appointed prime minister is scheduled to appear before parliament in a confirmation hearing. The nomination of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed as prime minister has sparked deep concern from some U.S.-based analysts, who say he is not qualified to tackle Somalia's myriad problems.

Last Thursday, Somali President Sharif Sheik Ahmed announced the appointment of a relatively obscure member of the Somali Diaspora to replace Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who stepped down as prime minister last month.

President Sharif said he nominated Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as "Farmajo," as prime minister, noting his previous experience as a diplomat during the 1980s under the regime of Mohamed Siad Barre. The president said he was confident the most qualified man has been chosen for the job.

The Senior Vice President of the National Committee on American Foreign Policy, J. Peter Pham, says he believes President Sharif has picked a man, who brings too little too late to a U.N.-backed government that has long suffered crippling internal divisions and remains deeply unpopular among the Somali people.

Since the current government was formed in 2004, it has had two presidents and three prime ministers, who have all been unable to stand up a functioning central administration during their time in office.   

"If you are going to shore up the Transitional Federal Government, you need a prime minister who brings something to the table," Pham said. "In Somalia, political legitimacy comes in two ways - either through having a military force behind you or having a very strong clan and other affinities. And it is not evident to me that the new prime minister has either."

Like former prime ministers Nur Hassan Hussein and Sharmarke, Farmajo's background and resume reflect close ties to the international donor community that supports the Transitional Federal Government.

Hussein, also known as Nur Adde, was the Secretary General of Somalia's Red Crescent Society and was based in neighboring Kenya when he was nominated by former President Abdullahi Yusuf in 2007. Sharmarke, who became prime minister in the Sharif government in February 2009 and was ousted last month, was a Canadian-Somali, who once worked as a diplomat for the United Nations.

Farmajo's ties are to the United States, which began after he left Somalia in the mid-1980s to take up the post of first secretary in the Somali embassy in Washington. He eventually became a U.S. citizen. In recent years, he worked as a civil servant for the state of New York, and taught college courses in leadership skills and conflict resolution.

The newly appointed prime minister has acknowledged visiting Somalia only once in the past 25 years.

Analyst Michael Weinstein at Purdue University in the United States says he believes Farmajo's nomination was unduly influenced by western donor nations, who are putting their need to have a friendly partner in the transitional government ahead of Somalia's need to find a leader with broad popular support.

"You got Sharmarke pushed out and now you have Mohamed in there," Weinstein said. "What is he? Another figure of the international coalition. He is the same type as Nur Adde, Sharmarke. The nice way of saying it is, 'He has no political baggage.'  That means he has no support base."

Farmajo is also a member of the Marehan sub-clan of the Darod tribe - a membership that Pham and Weinstein say could further test the transitional government's fragile relationship with Somalia's northern semi-autonomous region of Puntland.

Puntlanders consider the Marehan as a southern-based clan.

The Puntland minister of state planning and international cooperation, Abdulkadir Abdi Hashi, has already complained that if Farmajo becomes prime minister, the three highest offices in the Transitional Federal Government - the president, the prime minister, and the speaker of parliament - will be occupied by southerners in violation of the traditional national consensus.

Pham says the leadership in Puntland may declare independence if it feels the northern region is being politically marginalized by the government in Mogadishu.

"They are feeling alienated. So, I think it is certainly going to not make it any easier to keep Puntland in," Pham said.

Analysts say any sign of renewed discord in the Transitional Federal Government could also give fresh momentum to al-Shabab militant group, which has reportedly been weakened by clan-based squabbling among its leaders in recent weeks.

You May Like

Photogallery South Africa Bans Travelers From Ebola-stricken Countries

South Africans returning from affected West African countries will be thoroughly screened, required to fill out medical questionnaire, health minister says More

Multimedia UN Launches ‘Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years’ in Iraq

Move aims to help thousands of Iraqi religious minorities who fled their homes as Kurdish, Iraqi government forces battle Sunni insurgents More

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

IT specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about disease More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbasi
X
Scott Stearns
August 21, 2014 9:20 PM
The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Gaza Conflict, Hamas Popularity Challenge Abbas

The Palestinian unity government of Mahmoud Abbas has failed to convince Hamas to agree to Egyptian-negotiated terms with Israel on a Gaza cease-fire. VOA State Department Correspondent Scott Stearns reports on what the Gaza conflict means for President Abbas, with whom U.S. officials have worked for years on a two-state solution to the Israeli-Palestinian conflict.
Video

Video Nigeria's 'Nollywood' Movie Industry Rolls in High Gear

Twenty years after its birth in a video shop in Lagos, Nigeria's "Nollywood" is one of the most prolific film industries on earth. Despite low budgets and whirlwind production schedules, Nigerian films are wildly popular in Africa and industry professionals say they hope, in the future, their films will be as great in quality as they are in quantity. Heather Murdock has more for VOA from Lagos.
Video

Video UN Launches 'Biggest Aid Operation in 30 Years' in Iraq

The United Nations has launched what it describes as one of the biggest aid operations in 30 years in northern Iraq, as hundreds of thousands of refugees flee the extremist Sunni militant group calling itself the Islamic State. As Kurdish and Iraqi forces battle the Sunni insurgents, the fighting has forced more people to flee their homes. Kurdish authorities say the international community must act now to avert a humanitarian catastrophe. Henry Ridgwell reports for VOA from London.
Video

Video Cambodian American Hip Hop Artist Sings of Personal Struggles

A growing underground movement of Cambodian American hip hop artists is rapping about the struggles of living in urban America. Most, if not all of them, are refugees or children of refugees who came to the United States from Cambodia to escape the Khmer Rouge genocide of the 1970s. Through their music, the artists hope to give voice to immigrants who have been struggling quietly for years. Elizabeth Lee reports from Long Beach, California.
Video

Video African Media Tries to Educate Public About Ebola

While the Ebola epidemic continues to claim lives in West Africa, information technology specialists, together with radio and TV reporters, are battling misinformation and prejudice about the disease - using social media to educate the public about the deadly virus. VOA’s George Putic has more.
Video

Video Ferguson Calls for Justice as Anger, Violence Grips Community

Violence, anger and frustration continue to grip the small St. Louis suburb of Ferguson, Missouri. Protests broke out after a white police officer fatally shot an unarmed black teenager on August 9. The case has sparked outrage around the nation and prompted the White House to send U.S. Attorney Eric Holder to the small community of just over 20,000 people. VOA’s Mary Alice Salinas has more from Ferguson.
Video

Video Beheading Of US Journalist Breeds Outrage

U.S. and British authorities have launched an investigation into an Islamic State video showing the beheading of kidnapped American journalist James Foley by a militant with a British accent. The extremist group, which posted the video on the Internet Tuesday, said the murder was revenge for U.S. airstrikes on militant positions in Iraq - and has threatened to execute another American journalist it is holding. Henry Ridgwell has more from London.
Video

Video Family Robots - The Next Big Thing?

Robots that can help us with daily chores like cooking and cleaning are a long way off, but automatons that serve as family companions may be much closer. Researchers in the United States, France, Japan and other countries are racing to build robots that can entertain and perform some simpler tasks for us. VOA’s George Putic reports.
Video

Video In Ukraine, Fear and Distrust Remain Where Fighting has Stopped

As the Ukrainian military reclaims control of eastern cities from pro-Russian separatists, residents are getting a chance to rebuild their lives. VOA's Gabe Joselow reports from the town of Kramatorsk in Donetsk province, where a sense of fear is still in the air, and distrust of the government in Kyiv still runs deep.
Video

Video Five Patients Given Experimental Ebola Drug Said to Be Improving

The World Health Organization has approved the use of experimental treatments for Ebola patients in West Africa. The Ebola outbreak there is unprecedented, the disease deadly. The number of people who have died from Ebola has surpassed 1,200. VOA's Carol Pearson reports on the ethical considerations of allowing experimental drugs to be used.
Video

Video China Targets Overseas Assets of Corrupt Officials

As China presses forward with its anti-graft effort, authorities are targeting corrupt officials who have sent family members and assets overseas. The efforts have stirred up a debate at home on exactly how many officials take that route and how likely it is they will be caught. Rebecca Valli has this report.
Video

Video Leading The Fight Against Islamic State, Kurds Question Iraqi Future

Western countries including the United States have begun arming the Kurdish Peshmerga forces in northern Iraq to aid their battle against extremist Sunni militants from the Islamic State. But there are concerns that a heavily-armed Kurdistan Regional Government, or KRG, might seek to declare independence and cause the break-up of the Iraqi state. As Henry Ridgwell reports from London, the KRG says it will only seek greater autonomy from Baghdad.
Video

Video In Rural Kenya, Pressure Builds Against Female Circumcision

In some Kenyan communities, female genital mutilation remains a rite of passage. But activists are pushing back, with education for girls and with threats of punishment those who perform the circumcision. Mohammed Yusuf looks at the practice in the rural eastern community of Tharaka-Nithi.

AppleAndroid