Somalia Week in Focus: Top Stories (Feb. 24, 2017)

Week ending February 24, 2017

Somalia President nominates oil executive as Prime Minister

Somalia’s new president Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo nominated a political newcomer, Hassan Ali Khaire, as the country’s next Prime Minister.

Commentators note that Mr. Khaire, a Somali-Norwegian national, has no political experience, but has been working in Somalia in different capacities for the past 10 years.

He worked for years in the humanitarian sector for the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC). In more recent years, he was a shareholder and Africa Director for Soma Oil and Gas, a UK-based firm that signed an oil exploration agreement with the Federal Government of Somalia (FGS) in August 2013.

In Dec. 2016, the British investigators dropped a corruption probe into Soma Oil and Gas operations in Somalia. Mr. Khaire resigned from his position with Soma Oil and Gas to assume responsibilities as Somali Prime Minister.

Mr. Khaire is also a close associate of former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

Somalia to benefit from £100m in UK aid

The UK government has allocated £100m in emergency assistance to Somalia to help mitigate the effects of drought and conflict.

In a statement, UK International Development Secretary Priti Patel said: “The world faces a series of unprecedented humanitarian crises and the real threat of famine in four countries. These crises are being driven by conflict and drought and we must respond accordingly”.

UN agencies have warned about an impending famine disaster and the UK aid is expected to provide emergency food to 1million people in Somalia.

The UN has requested US$4.4billion to aid 20 million people in food insecure areas in South Sudan, Somalia, Yemen and Nigeria, with conflict and drought identified as key drivers.

Suicide bomber kills 34 at Mogadishu market

In the most deadly attack since the Feb. 8 election of a new President of Somalia, Al Shabaab suicide bombers struck a busy marketplace in Mogadishu on Feb. 19.

At least 34 persons, mostly civilians, were killed and 50 others wounded the car bombing tore through the marketplace in Mogadishu’s Madina district.

Al Shabaab militants have condemned the new government of President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, saying that they will fight Farmajo like previous administrations.

President Farmajo offered the public a US$100,000 reward for information leading to the disruption of terror operations.

Somalia US$5.3billion debt relief possible: IMF

The International Monetary Fund (IMF) has said that creditors may forgive Somalia’s US$5.3billion national debt, depending on conditions for improved governance, anti-corruption efforts and economic reforms.

IMF Somalia country director Samba Thiam said: “There is a general willingness from creditors to write off Somalia’s debt when the time comes. They [Somalia] are not paying debt now, they will not be asked to pay tomorrow, so they have time to work on consolidating their economic base. The debt is an issue that will be resolved some time.”

The IMF is also helping Somalia in its efforts to restore the authority of the Central Bank, mint new currency and set monetary policy.

4 Save the Children staff kidnapped in central Somalia

Suspected Al Shabaab militants kidnapped four Somali staff of UK aid agency Save the Children in Hiran region, central Somalia.

The kidnapping occurred on Feb. 23 in the outskirts of Hiran provincial capital Beledweyne. Among the four kidnapped persons are three Somali aid workers and their driver, according to Beledweyne mayor Mohamed Ahmed Food-ade.

In a statement, Save the Children said: “Save the Children is concerned for their wellbeing and asks for the immediate return of these very committed humanitarian workers who provide lifesaving help for children suffering from malnutrition.”

Puntland minister refutes media reports of illegal trawlers

The fisheries minister in Somalia’s northern Puntland state Abdinur Elmi Nur ‘Bindhe’ held a press conference in the port city of Bossaso this week, refuting media reports that illegal fishing trawlers had docked at the port.

Alongside the deputy minister and state minister, Mr. Bindhe told reporters that the Puntland government licensed seven fishing vessels to legally engage in fishing activities along the Puntland coast.

Minister Bindhe indicated that the vessels were operating in Puntland waters legally and that all the vessels paid the necessary registration and licensing fees, increasing the Ministry’s revenue between 2014-2016.

Initial media reports claimed that illegal fishing trawlers had docked at the port of Bossaso, prompting public concern and compelling the Puntland Ministry of Fisheries to hold a press conference.

He also noted that the vessels were part of a Puntland-Djibouti fisheries agreement that aims to develop the state’s fisheries sector.

Puntland administration under President Abdiweli Mohamed Ali Gaas has been criticized for unpaid salaries, corruption allegations, growing insecurity and the government’s weak response to the drought crisis.

Source: Somali Review