EDITORIAL | Somalia finally has a new prime minister, exactly sixty days after Hassan Khaire was thrown out in a controversial no-confidence motion for his government.
This week, Somali MPs approved the appointment of Mohamed Hussein Roble to take the hot seat. Things have been moving so fast since Mr. Roble was selected from the crowd.
A rather unknown name, the 57-year-old Roble has traveled from a quiet regional office of the International Labor Organization in Nairobi in the face of Somalia’s political storm and future.
We congratulate Mr Roble on his appointment. But remind him that the new position comes with an award for his reputation and the country’s future. This week, we have seen a number of political heavyweights in Somalia change tackle and support the new Prime Minister after weeks of demanding appointments.
They have pushed to catch his eye too, perhaps knowing that he should appoint a cabinet and lead the country’s affairs from now on. There are no legal barriers for political parties or their leaders to show up in Villa Somalia to shake the new prime minister’s hand. In fact, the look and the laughter finally depict a country with leaders talking to each other. It should be encouraged.
However, the connotation may be different. Until a week ago, some of these politicians have been the harshest critics of President Mohamed Farmaajo’s government. What is it that has made them change tongues so fast? Is it the appointment of the new Prime Minister, a conviction that they were wrong in criticizing the government, or an offer to be part of the very government they challenged?
In politics, anything is possible. But the Somali Prime Minister is making a serious mistake if he allows his office to be the center of political agreement. First, it will betray the hopes of Somalis who have hoped for a free and fair election in time. The new premier was appointed specifically to oversee this plan. Everything else will amount to treason.
Second, Somali politicians have a penchant for using appointed officials and curbing them. Sir. Roble must look at the history of his predecessors to be careful. He does not have much legroom to maneuver. His appointment has no honeymoon, and the pressure will increase immediately when elections are near and resources are needed to conduct an election.
It is true that Somalia has already signed the goals it set three years ago. These goals included an election involving all qualified Somalis in a safe and secure environment. These goals have now been defeated by the underlying realities, although the government and politicians in general are guilty as accused.
It may also be true that Mr Roble was probably elected because he could midwife an agreement between politicians to try to delay the election by creating a kind of government with ‘national unity’. Unfortunately, the public can reject him, not the recipients of this scheme.
Sir. Roble must therefore resist attempts to be used as a tool to secure politicians’ ambitions. His immediate and legal duty is to ensure the uncertainty that has surrounded the government for the past two months is removed.
The country needs to move fast to return to the election calendar. With Mr. Roble with the new immaculate mandate can help stabilize the course.