Hassan Ali Khaire, an Oil Executive, Is Picked to Be Somalia’s PM
Somalia’s new president, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, lost little time in nominating a prime minister, as his country works to right itself under a new government after a quarter-century of conflict, terrorism and devastating drought.
In a first for Somalia, Mr. Mohamed announced his choice on Twitter on Thursday, a day after his inauguration. Mr. Mohamed, better known in Somalia by his nickname, Farmajo, then left the country on an official visit to Saudi Arabia, where he was expected to discuss the regional security situation and Somalia’s many troubles with King Salman.
The nominee, Hassan Ali Khaire, 48, is an oil industry executive and former aid worker who has dual Somali and Norwegian citizenship. “I request you to work with him,” Mr. Mohamed wrote on Twitter.
At a news conference at the presidential palace later in the day, Mr. Mohamed’s chief of staff, Ali Fiqi, read out the formal decree nominating Mr. Khaire. The speaker of Parliament, Mohamed Osman Jawaari, was also present; the nomination is subject to a confirmation vote by lawmakers.
Mr. Khaire was born in central Somalia, and he received degrees from the University of Oslo and the Edinburgh Business School in Scotland.
He worked for a time as a regional director for the Norwegian Refugee Council, and most recently he was executive director for Africa for Soma Oil and Gas, a London-based company founded in 2013 to revive oil exploration in Somalia. He resigned from the company on Thursday.
In a video message posted on Somali news websites, Mr. Khaire accepted the nomination and promised to form a government that was representative of the Somali people.
Analysts said that his involvement with the oil company might be seen as a potential source of conflicts of interest, but that his experience with humanitarian work would be a plus.
“I think there are huge challenges ahead of the new prime minister and his government,” said one analyst, Mohamed Awale. “But it will depend how he manages the droughts and fighting against the terrorism. The people are confident with the new president and are looking at the strategy the new government would come up with.”
The most pressing issue facing the new government is the long-running conflict with the Shabab, the Islamist militant group that has been terrorizing the country for years. The Shabab have been in retreat in recent years, pushed back by troops sent to Somalia by the African Union, but Somalia’s national army has been plagued with problems. The Shabab have called the new president, Mr. Mohamed, an apostate and an American puppet.