(formerly IRIN News) Journalism from the heart of crises

President names new prime minister

The president of the Transitional National Government (TNG), of Somalia, Abdiqassim Salad Hassan, on Monday announced the appointment of Hasan Abshir Farah as his new prime minister, the TNG director of information told IRIN.

The move comes two weeks after former Prime Minister Ali Khalif Galayr was voted out of office by the Transitional National Assembly in a vote of no confidence.

Somali political sources describe Hasan Abshir, a former army officer, "as a consummate insider" in Somali politics. A member of the Ise Mahmud sub-clan of the Majerten, he originates from Garowe, the regional capital of the self-declared autonomous region of Puntland, where he served as interior minister before joining the TNG at its formation in Arta, Djibouti last year.

Hasan Abshir served as the mayor of Mogadishu under the former dictator, Muhammad Siyad Barre, as well as governor of Middle Shabelle and Bakol regions. He also served as Somalia's ambassador to Japan, and to Germany, his last assignment before the collapse of the government in 1991.

Following last year's Arta conference, at which he served as its co-chairman, and which formed the TNG, Hasan was appointed minister of minerals, water and mineral resources, the post he was holding at the time of his new appointment.

"I am not surprised by this. We all expected him to be named," an MP told IRIN on Monday. The MP said Hasan would enjoy a much better working relationship with parliament than his predecessor.

According to the MP, former Prime Minister Galayr's bad relations with parliament was one of the reasons for his downfall.

The second deputy Speaker of parliament, Ahmad Abarone Amin, told IRIN that Hasan "is an experienced administrator who knows the Somali people well", which would add to his standing.

"He [Hasan Abshir] knows how to delegate authority without losing control. We expect major differences in style and substance," he added.

The appointment of Hasan Abshir as prime minister is likely to have a political impact in Puntland, according to regional experts.

"Obviously it will have an impact. The region is home [to him] and he is a highly respected and influential figure there," said one.

Somali sources, however, insisted that whatever impact there "will not be felt immediately, like tomorrow, or next week".

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