Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
|Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed|
|9th President of Somalia|
16 February 2017
|Prime Minister||Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke
Hassan Ali Khayre
|Preceded by||Hassan Sheikh Mohamud|
|14th Prime Minister of Somalia|
1 November 2010 – 19 June 2011
|President||Sharif Sheikh Ahmed|
|Preceded by||Abdiwahid Elmi Gonjeh (Acting)|
|Succeeded by||Abdiweli Mohamed Ali|
|Leader of the Tayo Party|
5 May 2012
|Preceded by||Position established|
|Born||(1962-03-11) 11 March 1962
|Education||State University of New York,
Buffalo (BA, MA)
Mohamed Abdullahi “Farmajo” Mohamed (Somali: Maxamed Cabdulaahi Maxamed Farmaajo, Arabic: محمد عبد الله محمد; ) is a Somali diplomat and politician who is the 9th and current President of Somalia. He was previously Prime Minister of Somalia from November 2010 until June 2011 and is the founder and Chairman of the Tayo Political Party. He became the President of Somalia after winning the 2017 Somali presidential election with the votes of 184 of the total of 328 members of the Somali Parliament.
Early life of Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed
Mohamed was born in Mogadishu to a Marehan family. Nicknamed “Farmajo”, from the Italian word for cheese, he hails from the Gedo region in the south.
Mohamed’s parents were activists affiliated with the Somali Youth League (SYL), Somalia’s first political party. During the 1970s, his father worked as a civil servant in the national Department of Transportation.
Mohamed attended a boarding school in Somalia.Between 1989 and 1993, he completed a Bachelor’s degree in History from the State University of New York at Buffalo in Buffalo, New York. He followed in 2009 with a Master’s degree in Political Science (American Studies) from the University at Buffalo. His thesis was titled: “U.S. Strategic Interest in Somalia: From the Cold War Era to the War on Terror.”
Mohamed holds both Somali and American citizenship.
In an administrative capacity, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed worked at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Somalia before the collapse of the federal government in 1991 and the ensuing civil war. Between 1985 and 1988, he also acted as First Secretary in the Somali embassy in Washington and worked with various human rights organizations.
From 1994 to 1997, Mohamed was chosen as an at-large Commissioner for the Buffalo Municipal Housing Authority, and worked there as the finance chairman. He also served as case manager for a lead abatement program in the city from 1995 to 1999. Between 2000 and 2002, Mohamed was a minority business coordinator for the Erie County Division of Equal Employment Opportunity. From 2002 until his appointment as Prime Minister in late 2010, he worked as Commissioner for Equal Employment at the New York State Department of Transportation in Buffalo.
Mohamed also taught leadership skills and conflict resolution at Erie Community College, which is part of the SUNY system.
On 14 October 2010, Mohamed was appointed the new Prime Minister of Somalia. He replaced Omar Abdirashid Ali Sharmarke, who resigned the month before following a protracted dispute with the President.
Political analysts who weighed in on the selection generally expressed optimism regarding Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed‘s prospects of fulfilling his duties as Premier in the face of an obstinate insurgency in the southern part of the country. Factors cited included Mohamed’s background in the Somali diaspora and lack of political baggage; his relatively young age, which they suggested might help galvanize the government by presenting a fresh perspective; his administrative experience and familiarity with the protocols of classical democracies; and his diplomatic demeanor.
After several postponements following disagreements between President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan Sheikh Aden over whether the ensuing vote of confidence should be decided by a show of hands or a secret ballot, lawmakers overwhelmingly approved Mohamed’s appointment on 31 October 2010. 297 of the 392 Members of Parliament endorsed the selection via hand-raising; 92 MPs voted against and 3 abstained.
United Nations Secretary General Ban Ki-moon congratulated Mohamed on his new appointment, and commended the Somali leadership for having reached a consensus on procedural arrangements that facilitated a transparent and consultative confirmation of the Premier. African Union chairman Jean Ping also welcomed the new Prime Minister and re-affirmed the AU’s support for the Somali government.
On 1 November 2010, Mohamed was sworn into office at a ceremony held in the presidential residence, Villa Somalia.
On 12 November 2010, Mohamed named a new Cabinet, as per the Transitional Federal Government’s (TFG) Charter.
The Premier issued a statement indicating that “the Somali people and the international community were waiting for a competent and credible Somali cabinet, and I am happy to appoint this lean but capable cabinet”.
As had been expected, the allotted ministerial positions were significantly reduced in number, with only 18 administrative posts unveiled versus the previous government’s bloated 39 portfolios. Only two Ministers from the previous Cabinet were reappointed: Hussein Abdi Halane, the former Minister of Finance and a well-regarded figure in the international community, was put in charge of a consolidated Ministry of Finance and Treasury; and Dr. Mohamud Abdi Ibrahim was reassigned to the Ministry of Commerce and Industry.
Ahlu Sunna Waljama’a, a moderate Sufi group and an important military ally of the TFG, was also accorded the key Interior and Labour ministries.
The remaining ministerial positions were largely assigned to technocrats new to the Somali political arena:Abdihakim Mohamoud Haji Faqi, a former diplomat, was appointed one of several Deputy Prime Ministers in addition to the important post of Minister of Defense; the diplomat Mohamed Abdullahi Omaar resumed duties as Foreign Minister, a position he had already held in the past; Dr. Maryan Qasim Ahmed joined the government as Minister for Women and Family Affairs; Dr. Abdi Shakur Sheikh Hassan Farah as Minister for Internal Affairs and Security; Abdirashid Khalif Hashi as Minister of Housing and National Rebuilding; Abdulkareem Hassan Jama as Minister of Information; and Abdullahi Abyan Noor as Minister for Justice and Religious Issues.
President Sharif Ahmed also welcomed the new Cabinet and encouraged parliament to endorse the appointments.
After another lengthy delay over disagreements regarding the Cabinet’s composition and size, members of parliament approved Mohamed’s new government on 27 November 2010. 251 of the 343 lawmakers that attended the voting session endorsed the Cabinet, while 92 legislators opposed it.
In its first 50 days in office, Prime Minister Mohamed’s administration completed its first monthly payment of stipends to government soldiers, and initiated the implementation of a full biometric register for the security forces within a window of four months. Additional members of the Independent Constitutional Commission were also appointed to engage Somali constitutional lawyers, religious scholars and experts in Somali culture over the nation’s scheduled new constitution, a key part of the government’s Transitional Federal Tasks. In addition, high level federal delegations were dispatched to defuse clan-related tensions in several regions.
To improve transparency, Cabinet ministers fully disclosed their assets and signed a code of ethics. An Anti-Corruption Commission with the power to carry out formal investigations and to review government decisions and protocols was also established so as to more closely monitor all activities by public officials. Furthermore, unnecessary trips abroad by members of government were prohibited, and all travel by ministers now require the Premier’s consent. A budget outlining 2011’s federal expenditures was also put before and approved by members of parliament, with the payment of civil service employees prioritized. In addition, a full audit of government property and vehicles is being put into place.
On the war front, the new government and its AMISOM allies also managed to secure control of 60% of Mogadishu, where 80% of the capital’s population at the time lived. With almost a thousand newly trained government troops on the way, set to be augmented by an additional 4000 AMISOM soldiers, the pace of territorial gains was expected to greatly accelerate.
After months of political infighting between President Sharif Ahmed and the Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan over whether to hold presidential elections in August 2011, the two politicians struck a deal in Kampala on 9 June 2011 to postpone the vote for a new President and Parliament Speaker for one year in exchange for the resignation of the Premier within a period of thirty days. Overseen by the Ugandan President Yoweri Museveni and the U.N. Special Envoy to Somalia Augustine Mahiga, the signed Kampala Accord would also see the well-regarded technocratic Cabinet that Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed had assembled in November 2010 re-composed to make way for a new government. Political analysts have suggested that the agreement may have been a bid on President Sharif Ahmed’s part to fend off attempts by the Speaker of Parliament Sharif Hassan to force him from power by pre-emptively “sacrificing” the Premier. Sharif Hassan is also reported to harbor presidential ambitions of his own.
Announcement of Prime Minister Mohamed’s proposed resignation was immediately met with protests in various cities. Thousands of civilians, many government soldiers, and some legislators marched through the streets of Mogadishu, calling for the dismissal of the President, the Parliament Speaker and the Parliament. The crowd also demanded that the Premier be reinstated and described Mohamed as the “only honest leader in recent years”.Posters of the UN Special Envoy were symbolically burned, with protestors appealing to the UN Secretary General to dismiss Mahiga due to what many felt was the latter’s infringement on Somalia’s sovereignty through his signing of the Kampala agreement. Attacks on hotels in which members of parliament were staying and at least five deaths were also reported. Additional demonstrations against the Premier’s resignation were held in Galkacyo, a key trading city in the north-central Mudug region, as well as in Belet Hawo in the far south. Internationally, protests also reportedly took place in Cairo, Nairobi, Johannesburg, Sydney, London, Rome, Stockholm, Minneapolis, and Toronto.
In response, Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed released a statement through the state-run Radio Mogadishu commending the military for its rapid response and urging its troops to exercise restraint. He also appealed to the public to calm down, and indicated that “I have seen your expressions and heard your calls[…] You are part of the decision making—what you want must be heard.” Additionally, in a press conference, the Premier called for the immediate release of all protestors who had been detained, and stated that his administration would launch an independent investigation into their arrest. Weighing in on the demonstrations, Mogadishu’s Mayor Mohamed Nur suggested that “what [the demonstrators] have a problem with is that two people go and decide the fate of this government without considering the feelings of this population”, and that putting the issue before Parliament for approval was a more democratic course of action.
On 11 June 2011, Prime Minister Mohamed released a statement indicating that the Kampala decision ought to be presented in Parliament for debate and appraised according to the laws stipulated in the national constitution. The Premier also stated that he would only step down if lawmakers voted to uphold the accord. This was echoed by the Cabinet, which indicated in a press release that, after having convened to discuss the Kampala decision, the Ministers agreed that the accord must be put before Parliament for evaluation. In addition, over 200 parliamentarians reportedly sought to urge the Prime Minister to reconvene Parliament so as to deliberate the decision, indicating in a separate statement that the accord deprived MPs of their legislative role vis-a-vis the government.
On 12 June 2011, President Sharif Ahmed released a statement wherein he condemned the protests, describing them as “illegal”. He also suggested that some government officials were financing the rallies in Mogadishu, and warned that the Al-Shabaab group of Islamists that is waging war against the federal government could try to exploit the gatherings to launch terrorist attacks.
The same day, news reports surfaced indicating that UN Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon would sack Special Envoy Augustine Mahiga on account of a lack of tangible progress made and public confidence in Mahiga’s work in Somalia. UN sources also stated that, due to prevalent allegations of graft, the Secretary General would fire half of the senior staff in various UN bureaus, including the UNPOS, UNDP, UNICEF, WHO and OCHA.
In an interview on 16 June 2011, the Undersecretary for Foreign Affairs of Italy, Alfredo Mantica, expressed support for Prime Minister Mohamed’s position with regard to the Kampala agreement. Mantica stated that the Italian government believed that the accord ought to be reviewed in Parliament. He also indicated that “the prime minister has been in office five months. And [it is too] early to judge his work. But what he has done so far has been very positive. It has achieved important results. The government already seemed a miracle[…] The strength of the instability in Somalia is a constant. And the prime minister represents stability.”
On 19 June 2011, Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed resigned from his position as Prime Minister of Somalia. Part of the controversial Kampala Accord’s conditions, the agreement would also see the mandates of the President, the Parliament Speaker and Deputies extended until August 2012, after which point new elections are to be organized. In his farewell speech, Prime Minister Mohamed indicated that he was stepping down in “the interest of the Somali people and the current situation in Somalia”. He also thanked his Cabinet for its efforts in improving the security situation and the standards of governance in the country.
Abdiweli Mohamed Ali, Mohamed’s former Minister of Planning and International Cooperation, was appointed as Acting Premier later the same day. A few days later, on 23 June 2011, Ali was named permanent Prime Minister. Prime Minister Mohamed’s resignation was immediately met with anger by the general public and many lawmakers. Apprehension regarding a possible resurgence of governmental corruption and lassitude, long-standing problems which Mohamed’s administration had made significant strides toward eradicating, were cited as primary reasons for the consternation. According to one legislator, many policy-makers are trying to repeal the Kampala decision, as it also “subject[s] the country to trusteeship.” Another MP indicated that “lawmakers are united in their opposition to the deal” and “will object [to] it until we throw it away”.
Observers suggested that Mohamed’s resignation could offer the militants an opportunity to capitalize on the situation and set back the territorial gains made by his administration in the ongoing insurgency in southern Somalia. They also opined that firing the Premier would not resolve the long-standing power struggle between President Sharif Ahmed and Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan, but may inadvertently exacerbate and prolong it. Additionally, political analysts suggested that the Kampala agreement presents other potential long-term issues, such as facilitating intervention and meddling by neighboring countries, with the Ugandan government’s role as the final arbiter, in particular, cited as problematic.
Responding to the Kampala decision, the Al-Shabaab insurgent group’s head of policy and regions, Sheikh Hussein Ali Fidow, told reporters on 22 June 2011 that the accord ended in failure since it was “an example [of how] the country is managed by Uganda” and that “it is clear for the Somali people and the international community that [the] Kampala meeting [on] Somalia was aimed to coerce the Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed to step down”. In addition, the spokesman suggested that Somalia’s citizenry was aware of what was going on and that it did not recognize President Sharif Ahmed and the Parliament Speaker Sharif Hassan as legitimate governmental authorities. He also reiterated his group’s call for Ugandan troops to withdraw from the country.
On 24 June 2011, lawmakers reaffirmed their opposition to and intention of repealing the Kampala decision. The Chairman of the federal Information, Public Awareness, Culture and Heritage Committee, Awad Ahmed Ashareh, indicated that 165 legislators had tendered a motion in Parliament opposing the agreement, but the Speaker rebuffed it. Ashareh also stated that MPs would issue a vote of no confidence vis-a-vis the Speaker Hassan if he continued to refuse to permit debate to take place, suggesting that Hassan’s refusal “contravenes the Charter and rules of procedure.”
Following talks with parliamentarians, President Sharif Ahmed asserted on 28 June 2011 that, on account of opposition amongst legislators to the Kampala decision, the accord would be brought before Parliament for deliberation. He also indicated that the agreement would not be implemented unless approved by lawmakers.
After his resignation, Mohamed returned to the United States and his old position at the New York State Department of Transportation.
In early 2012, Mohamed and members of his former Cabinet established the Tayo (“Quality”) political party, so named after the generally favorable reputation that his administration earned during its brief tenure. According to Mohamed, the party’s primary agenda will revolve around delivering services to Somalia’s general population and encouraging the repatriation of Somali diasporans so as to assist in the post-conflict reconstruction process. Since stepping down from office, Mohamed has reportedly been campaigning in various global destinations to amass support for his new party, including the United States, the United Kingdom, the Netherlands, and Sweden.
2012 presidential elections
In early August 2012, Mohamed presented himself as a presidential candidate in Somalia’s 2012 elections. He was among the various challengers that were eliminated during the first round of voting. Mohamed and the other hopefuls that were vying for the post thereafter reportedly encouraged their supporters to back Hassan Sheikh Mohamud’s candidacy. Mohamud won by a large majority in the final round, defeating Sharif Ahmed 71–29% (190 votes vs. 79 votes).
In August 2013, Mohamed served as a keynote speaker at the Fourth Annual Ohio Somali Graduation Program in Columbus, Ohio. The event brought together hundreds of students, parents, professionals and leaders to honor the state’s Somali secondary and tertiary graduates. Former Minister of Education of Somalia Hassan Ali Mire was a guest speaker, with financial scholarships awarded to the most outstanding pupils.