MOGADISHU, Somalia – Somalia’s President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo nominated Mohamed Hussein Roble for a substantial 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 leader, was ousted from office in which critics related to endless political conflicts in Somalia, with sources suggesting that his pressure for timely elections may have cost him his job. The former Prime Minister was a respected figure within the circles of the international community.
But the delayed appointment of a material prime minister had caused controversy in the Horn of Africa as political analysts questioned the legality of agreements signed by Mahdi Mohamed Guled, the deputy prime minister installed as interim prime minister after Khaires’ departure.
Forum for national parties [FNP], a conglomerate of six opposition parties, on Tuesday called for a speedy process in the appointment of the prime minister, arguing that the delays could paralyze government operations. The Prime Minister is responsible for the government.
In a statement, the FNP said it sees “irresponsibility and dictatorship” that Somalia should be without a government for 56 days, adding that “the president was given absolute power, aiming to realize his personal interest”. All work done by the current cabinet, it said, is “unconditional and unusable”.
The acting prime minister, the opposition party said, did not have absolute powers to conduct government operations. The interim constitution stipulates that a new prime minister will form the government through the appointment of ministers who will help fulfill part of the agenda that the administration may have set.
After Khaire’s exit, Farmajo promised to ensure the appointment of the replacement happens “as soon as possible”. But since then, he has rarely talked about the vacuum with sources indicating that the clan matrices and the current political climate have required broader consultations before a final decision is made.
But on Thursday, Farmajo appointed Hussein, who will now be investigated by the lower house, which is controlled by the ruling elites. Deputy Chief of Staff Abdinur Mohamed welcomed the appointment of Hussein, adding that he was optimistic he would serve the country with distinction.
“Congratulations to our newly appointed Prime Minister, HE Mohamed Hussein Roble. I am sure you will serve our country with distinction. Wish you a successful appointment,” he remarked on his Twitter handle.
Born in 1963 in Hobyo, Galmadug State, Hussein started an engineering course at Somali National University in 1990, before later becoming a member of the Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden. He has served in the Somali development sector in the areas of youth empowerment, trade, investment, infrastructure and reconstruction, Abdinur added.
His predecessor, Hassan Ali Khaire, congratulated the new prime minister 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 urge all Somalis to stand by him,” Khaire tweeted.
A fairly new face in Somalia’s politics, Hussein recently worked for the International Labor Organization in Nairobi, Kenya. He hails from Sa’ad, a sub-Habar Gadir clan in central Somalia, and is respected in the international community, as is his predecessor.
Originally, there were reports that Farmajo would have gone to 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 prime minister’s clan.
“Clan affiliation is fundamental in Somali politics. There is no shame in mentioning it. Rather, it is literally mandatory to mention,” said Abdullahi, a persistent critic of the former prime minister over what he calls a “bad attitude” and causing gaps among workers “.
The appointment comes hours after stakeholders in the country reached a historic deal before the election that effectively ended the brewing political crisis. The prime minister would serve until February next year, when the country elects a new president, who is given a mandate to elect another prime minister to form a new government.