Somalia Parliament Approves New Prime Minister

WASHINGTON — Members of Somalia’s Parliament have approved the appointment of Hamza Abdi Barre as the new prime minister.

More than 200 members of Parliament, who were present at a session held Saturday in Mogadishu, unanimously backed Barre, who also is member of the lower house of Parliament.

After the vote, Barre told VOA in an exclusive interview he would form “an effective government to deal with the current situation.”

“I will form a government that would advance the key priorities of my new government, including security, drought response, reconciliation, and development,” Barre said.

“I thank the respected lawmakers for giving me the confidence, a confidence, I know comes with a burden and challenges, a confidence that makes me both happy and a little bit worried about its extent and the huge expectations.”

International humanitarian organizations and the Somalia’s special presidential envoy for drought and climate, Abdirahman Abdishakur Warsame, continue to warn that Somalia faces a climate emergency and a famine.

“Our people are facing a severe drought as a result of an unprecedented fourth failed rainy season with catastrophic hunger, and we extremely fear that the situation may turn into a deadly famine, therefore my government will give the priority in dealing with drought response,” Barre said.

Somalia politics often include disputes between presidents and prime ministers, which is the product of a complex constitution intended to encourage power sharing, which forces an elected president to handpick a prime minister from a rival clan and then hand over certain powers to that unelected post.

In the past, such disagreements often have paralyzed governments, leading to the eventual ouster of prime ministers by lawmakers.

Unlike previous prime ministers, though, Barre is a close friend of the current president and served as secretary-general of the president’s Peace and Development Party from 2011 to 2017.

Barre says this time around, if any political differences arise between him and the president it will not escalate into tension.

“It is the human nature. We can differ on a political issue, but I assure for Somalis that we will find a mechanism that we can solve our differences without political tension.” Barre said. “I assure you that the president will effectively work together for the betterment of the Somali people.”

Barre, 48, was elected to Parliament for the first time in December. Previously, he was the chair of the Jubaland regional electoral commission.

He was nominated June 15 as prime minister by the newly elected president, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

One of the biggest challenges facing his government is the al-Qaida-aligned Islamist group al-Shabab, which still controls large areas of rural southern and central Somalia, continuing to carry out suicide attacks and assassinations in the main cities, including the capital, Mogadishu.

Source: Voice of America