Who's Who in Somalia's New Cabinet?
Cabinet Members Seen as Newcomers to Somali Politics
By ABDIKAFAR HOSH 08/17/2011
Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali
Prime Minister Abdiweli Mohamed Ali

Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, a Harvard-educated technocrat, was appointed as Somalia’s prime minister following the June 2011 Kampala Accord that was endorsed by Somalia's President Sheikh Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the speaker of the transitional federal parliament, Shariff Hassan Sheikh Aden. In turn, the new prime minister was responsible for appointing a new cabinet despite fierce political infighting between the speaker and the president.

In an effort to understand the make-up of the prime minister's cabinet, Somalia Report examines how the new ministerial posts are shared amongst the president, prime minister and the speaker using the 4.5 clan formula.

Sharing Cabinet Appointments

Dr. Abdiweli Mohamed Ali appointed 18 members to his cabinet, most of whom were drawn from the Somali community in the Diaspora and are viewed as newcomers to Somali politics.

But just how were the ministerial posts divided among Somalia's top three bickering officials?

“First the president believed that some members of the previous cabinet needed to be retained and he shared this viewpoint with the other two executives," said an official working in the president's office in Mogadishu.

However, the official, who sought anonymity, revealed that the speaker disagreed with the president's proposal and argued that the members of the the former administration had to quit to pave way for a new team.

“Although the speaker made that suggestion, his list still had some key members from the previous administration including Gen. Yussuf Siyad Indha’ade, Ali Ahmed Jama, Abdirisaq Jurille, Prof. Abdurahman Ibbi, Abdullahi Sheikh Ismail, and Abdirahman Abdishakur," said the official.

How 3 Top Officials Agreed on the Cabinet
@Somalia Report
How 3 Top Officials Agreed on the Cabinet

However, his proposed list was rejected by both Sheikh Shariff and Abdiweli, a move that sparked off a heated dispute between the men, according to Kaafi Abdalla Ali, a Somali political analyst in Mogadishu.

“The local media on many occasions reported the row between the president and the speaker and from my visits to the president's office I could clearly tell that the international community had to step in and persuade the two to come to some agreement,” Ali told Somalia Report.

He says the United Nations and leaders of the East African countries tried to persuade the politicians to abide by the Kampala Accord.

“Ugandan President Yoweri Kaguta Museveni whose army soldiers are part of the peace keeping forces in Mogadishu and the Special Representative of the U.N. Secretary-General for Somalia, Dr. Augustine Mahiga, tried to persuade the Somali leaders to respect each other and allow the country to move forward by naming the new cabinet," he said.

Before the men could agree on a cabinet sharing deal, they had to abide by a specific procedure, according to Samiya Abdi Egal who works in the prime minister's office.

"I can assure you that before the appointment of the new cabinet ministers, the 3 officials agreed on a particular procedure whereby leader could suggest the members of his tribe, although the prime minister asked the president and the speaker to give him a green light to nominate the cabinet ministers," Mrs. Egal told Somalia Report.

She added that when the premier faced obstacles over nominations, he and the other two principles agreed that each leader must discuss with the former ministers from his tribe and stop the intervention of other tribes.

“The president consulted with the former ministers from his Hawiye tribe. The speaker consulted with former ministers from his Digil & Mirifle tribe, while the new Prime Minster discussed the available former ministers from his Darod tribe to facilitate the nominations," she explained. "This new plan forced the speaker to refrain and renounce the appointments of the other Somali tribes except the others or 0.5 and Dir tribe."

The newly cabinet was chosen based on the traditional clan 4.5 formula:

1 - Digil and Mirifle Clan (Speaker)

1 - Hawiye (President)

1 – Dir Clan

1 – Darood (Prime Minister)

.5 - minority clans

Clan Affiliation in the Cabinet
@Somalia Report
Clan Affiliation in the Cabinet

Speaker Hassan's Digil and Mirifle Clan Appointments

Speaker Hassan was forceful in seeing that people from his Digil and Mirifle clan be appointed to the cabinet. To do this, he consulted closely with former Defense Minister Abdihakim Mohamud Fiqqi, former Minister for Reconciliation Mohamud Mohamed Bonow, and former Minister of Energy and Minerals Abdirisak Sheikh Muhiyadin.

1. Mr. Mohamed Mohamud Haji Ibraahim, Deputy Prime Minster and Minster for Foreign Affairs - is from Dabare sub clan in the Digil clan and replaced his cousin Abdihakim Mohamud Fiqqi who was the defense minister. He has a degree in international relations and was part of the Somali Diaspora living in the United Kingdom.

2. Mr. Aden Abdullahi Aden, Minister for Transport - is from Hadame sub-clan in the Digil clan. He is a businessman who has been living in the Gulf states for the last several years and is close friends with the speaker, according to MP Bashiir Salaad.

3. Mr. Abdullahi Haji Hassan Mohamed Nuur, Minister for Agriculture and Livestock - is from Leysan sub-clan in the Mirifle clan and is part of the Somali Diaspora from Finland. He has a limited educational background, according to his relatives.

4. Mr. Abdirahman Sheikh Mohamed Haydar, Minister for Fisheries and Natural Resources - is from Eelay sub-clan in the Mirifle clan. He earned a master’s degree in human resource management from the University of Wales, according to MP Hassan Hussein. He replaced Abdirisak Sheikh Muhiyadiin who served as the minister of energy and minerals.

Dir Clan Appointments

Although the speaker's role in cabinet formation was supposed to be limited to his tribe, he had a strong hand in the role of other tribes particularly in the Dir clan, according Mohamed Hussein Elmi.

“I can verify you that the speaker played an inevitable role in the nomination of other tribes like Dir,” Mohamed Hussein told Somalia Report.

1. Mr. Ahmed Hassan Gabobe (Ugaas Bille), Minister for Justice and Religious Affairs - is from the Biyomaal sub-clan in the Dir clan and was part of the parliamentary committee that the speaker announced in February this year to prepare for the presidential elections. He has been an MP since the Djibouti agreement in 2009 and earned a degree in Islamic studies. He replaced Abdullahi Ebyan Nor.

2. Mr. Mohamed Muhiyadin Sheikh Mursal, Minister of Labor, Youth and Sports - is from the Isak clan in the Dir Clan of Somaliland. He is part of the Diaspora from United Kingdom and replaced Mohamed Abdullahi Oomaar who served as the deputy prime minister and minister of foreign affairs.

3. Mr. Hussein Arab Issa, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Defense - is from Isak in the Dir clan and resides mainly a self proclaimed state of Somaliland. He left Somalia, where his family lived in southern part of the country and still has properties in the Middle Shabelle region, for the US in the 1980s, according to Ali Abdulahi Yassiin who lives in Mogadishu. He replaced Ahmed Abdirahman Abade, a former minster of transport.

4. Dr. Abdiaziz Sheikh Yussuf, Minister for Health - is from the Surre sub-clan in the Dir clan and comes from the UK. He served as the minister of health in the 2005-2006 government of Somalia but resigned after a row with then-Prime Minister Professor Ali Mohamed Geddi. He replaced Abdinuur Moalim Mohamud, the former minister for labor, sports and social affairs. Although Abdiaziz claims that he is full doctor, his close relatives told Somalia Report that he was only a nurse in Saudi Arabia.

President Shariff's Hawiye Clan Appointments

President Shariff has played a limited role in nominating members of his Hawiye tribe as compared to the speaker, according to MP Mohamed Hussein who spoke to Somalia Report.

“The president suggested two of the Hawiye minsters while the other two ministers are Diaspora from North American and close friends of Prime Minster Dr Abdiweli,” he said.

1. Mr. Abdisamad Moalim Mohamud Sheikh Hassan, Minister for Interior and National Security - replaced his late uncle Abdishakur Sheikh Hassan Faran who was assassinated on June 10th, 2011. Mr Hassan was born and raised in Dhusamareb of Galgadud region in central Somalia, but was most recently living in Toronto, Canada. He is closely aligned with the pro-government ASWJ militia of central Somalia.

2. Mr. Abdulkadir Hussein Mohamed, Minister for Information and Postal Cooperation - is from the Murursade sub-clan in the Hawiye clan. He is from Britain and earned a degree in information technology. He served as the director of the communication department of this ministry and is the owner of Radio Tusmo, one of the local radio stations in Mogadishu. He replaced Mohamed Moalim Hassan Mohamed, former Minister for Fishing, Environment and Natural Resources.

3. Mr. Abdulkadir Mohamed Dhiisow, Minister for Water and Energy - is from the Galje’el sub-clan in the Hawiye clan. He is of Somali-Finish origin and lived in Birmingham, UK for the last 10 years.

4. Dr Abdullahi Godah Barre, Minister for Planning and International Cooperation - is from Hawadle tribe in the Hawiye clan and he is from Ottawa, Canada. He is a close friend of the prime minister and he studied economics and agriculture at the National University of Somalia and attended Southern Illinois University and the University of Ottawa. He most recently worked on humanitarian projects for the United Nations.

PM Abdiweli's Darod Clan Appointments

For his list, the prime minister consulted previous ministers from his Darod clan, according to Yassin Abdulahi, a Somali politician from Puntland who was in Mogadishu during cabinet nominations.

“Dr. Abdiweli consulted with some of the previous ministers from his tribe particularly Abdikarim Hassan Jama, the former minister of information and postal cooperation, and Abirashiid Khalif Hashi, the former minster of housing and the national development,” Yassin Abdullahi told Somalia Report.

1. Mr. Abdiwahab Ugaas Hussein Ugaas Khaliif, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Trade and Industry - is from Ogaden in the Darod clan. He left Somalia in 1980 for Sweden where he earned a law degree. He replaced former Minister of Finance Mr. Xalane, who resigned his position after the resignation of the Prime Minster Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo.

2. Dr. Abdinasir Mohamed Abdulle, Minister for Finance and Treasury - is from the Marehan tribe in the Darod clan, the same as former PM Farmajo. Dr Abdinasir Abdulle earned a PhD in economics from the Utah State University where he later became an economics professor.

3. Mr. Abdirahman Hosh Jibriil, Minister for Reconciliation and Constitutional Affairs - is from Leelkase tribe in the Darod clan and is a Somali-Canadian lawyer after earning a degree from Canada's York University. He was one of the first Somali Diaspora who reached Canada in 1980s, according to Farah Shire who has lived Toronto for the last 30 years. “His father was a member of the Somali National Forces and attended a missionary school in Jowhar district of Lower Shabelle region. He travelled to Saudi Arabia after Ethiopian and Somali fought in 1977," said Farah Gessod.

4. Prof. Ahmed Aydiid Ibrahim, Minister For Education, Culture and Higher Studies - he is from Dhulbahante sub-clan in the Darod clan and is is a professor and lecturer in the Riyadh University of Saudi Arabia. He was the head of Examination Board in Somalia between the 1970’s and 1980’s.

Other Cabinet Members

1. Mr. Jaylani Noor Ikar, Minister for Housing and National Development - is from the Shaanshi sub-clan in the Reer Hamar and makes up the .5 of the 4.5 clan sharing agreement.

2. Mrs. Maryan Juma Aweis , Minister for Women and Gender Affairs - replaced Asho Osman Aqil after she refused to accept the position due to pressure from al-Shabaab militants. For Mrs. Aqil's ordeal at the hands of militants, please read here.

Making it Official

The new cabinet was sworn in on July 29, 2011 in a small ceremony held in the presidential compound of Villa Somalia Mogadishu attended by the president, prime minster, speaker and other distinguished guests.

The president urged the cabinet ministers to fulfill and their duties during the next twelve months which are massive considering that drought, famine and insurgents are ravaging the country.

“The duties in front of us are strong and tremendous. The time is very little, but if we try constructively we can manage and quickly reach our destinations next year," the president said.

Editor's Note: Some background information came from the Office of the Prime Minister.