STEPHEN MUDIARI | NATION Somali President Sheikh Shariff Ahmed (centre) and the new prime minister, Abdiweli Mohamed Ali (right), listen to the former PM, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, during the introduction of Ali in Mogadishu on Thursday.By AFP
Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed on Thursday appointed a Harvard tax law graduate as his new prime minister, handing him the daunting task of trying to govern Africa’s most lawless nation.
Abdiweli Mohamed Ali replaces Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed who resigned under a reconciliation accord at the weekend.
Ali taught at Niagara University in Buffalo, New York, before joining the Somali transitional federal government (TFG), where he has already served as deputy prime minister and former planning minister.
He gets to the helm of a country where many fail even to get even a primary education.
And in the 14 months left until the mandates of Somalia’s transitional institutions finally expire, he faces an uphill task in a capital plagued by urban warfare on a daily basis.
Ali takes office as Shebab Islamist rebels, facing increasing pressure from an expanding African Union AMISOM force, are stepping up their suicide bombing campaign in Mogadishu.
His academic credentials include a master’s degree in public administration, also from Harvard, and a doctorate in economics.
“He has the personality and the kind of knowledge that makes him fit to become the prime minister,” the president said in announcing Ali’s appointment.
“I’m quite confident that he will be up to the challenge of the hard conditions our country is encountering.”
Somalia’s transitional government, set up in Kenya in 2004, has survived only thanks to the international community.
The speaker of parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden, who had been at loggerheads with President Sharif over the choice of the new prime minister, commended the new appointee.
“The president and I have confidence in the new prime minister and I also agree to his nomination. We need to put our differences behind us and take on the difficult tasks ahead,” Aden said.
Paralysed by infighting
Political activity in recent months in Somalia has been paralysed by infighting, notably between the president and the speaker.