New Minister’s, same old challenges -UM

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Mogadishu (UM) – This week Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire undertook a mini reshuffle which replaced the current Ministers of Interior, Foreign Affairs and Commerce. From the private blog of the former Minister of Foreign Affairs, Yusuf Garaad and the interview of the Minister of Interior, Abdi Farah Said Juha, it was an ugly process which was conducted in secrecy by a small select team led by the Prime Minister. Already there are angry clan discussions regarding the lack of consultation on the part of the Prime Minister on the reshuffle which effectively sees not only a personality swap in the Ministries of Interior and Foreign Affairs, but a clan one too.

It is not possible to be sure whether the Prime Minister’s reshuffle was driven by a genuine concern about capacity and delivery or a personal vendetta against the former Minister’s as is the current public debate in Somalia but a mini reshuffle was on the cards for months and would have happened much sooner had it not been for the many crises the Government found itself in. Now that it has happened, it is important to welcome the new Ministers to their new roles and to remind them that there is no time to waste in pushing forward the Government’s agenda of Nabad and Nolol built on the pillars of security, economic development and good governance.

Out of the 3 new Ministerial appointments, two will be handling their first Ministerial portfolios and one will be continuing as a Minister from the last administration. Both Ahmed Awad (Foreign Minister) and Abdi Mohamed Sabriye (Interior) will be undertaking their first Ministerial posts, while Mohamed Abdi Hayir (Commerce) will be returning to serve in the new administration after been the former Minister of Information in the last government under President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.   

The new appointments are brought on board at a crucial time in all three Ministries which are tasked with overseeing and generating international support for some of the crucial elements of the Government’s ambitious legislative and policy agenda under the banner of Nabad and Nolol.

Promoting Somalia’s interests abroad is crucial given the current climate of aid fatigue, the slow national progress and global terrorism in an age of rising nationalism internationally led by President Trump and the USA.  Minister Ahmed Awad is an experienced Ambassador to Washington for Somalia and a former UN official who can be trusted to take forward the national interest at a global level. Arguably, he is one of the few Somali Diplomats who has links with the Trump administration and the US State Department and this is an opportune time to bring him on board. However, Minister Awad must be provided with all the support to do his job well if he is to succeed in this age of global uncertainty.

Internal cohesion, the completion of the Somali Federal model and preparing for the supposed universal suffrage of the next election is also fundamental and Minister Abdi Mohammed Sabriye must also be supported in every way to not only understand the Somali political process but to operate within it effectively. The Somali public sector is more complex than anything one can imagine and certainly more difficult to operate in than the private sector.

Making Somalia a destination for business and facilitating the successful Public Private Dialogue needed for domestic revenue generation will be Minister Mohamed Abdi Hayir’s priority. He must improve the Ease of Doing Business in Somalia through effective policies and laws as well as reaching out to a private sector that is better organised, financed and sceptical of the role the State wants to forge for itself in regulating their different sectors. Minister Hayir was among the most divisive, disloyal and ineffective Minister’s of the last administration and he will only succeed in this new role if he listens more, politics less and promotes the right people to key positions.  

The new Ministers will all need time to settle in and understand the remit of their portfolios, but they should be assisted by the merit based appointments of their new Director Generals which should be completed shortly provided the Government does not bow to last minute pressure which is mounting.

A challenge for the three former Minister’s that will quickly prove an impediment for their successors will be the confusion of roles within Government. All the new Minister’s will be wise to sit with the Prime Minister and clarify their roles before accepting it. This is better than arguing with other Minister’s or the Office of the Presidency or Prime Minister later when they start to feel they are been undermined. This way they will have cause to leave with dignity rather than been thrown off, like their predecessors, if things become too difficult.

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