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Somali president appoints new Mogadishu mayor with high hopes for change

Across the city, people have expressed optimism over the city’s future, saying that the new mayor’s appointment may show a “fundamentally new dynamic” in Mogadishu’s administration.

By Judy Maina,

NAIROBI– Somali president ‘s new pick for the Mogadishu mayor’s position has met with high expectations that he can curb the rampant corruption and the misuse of government funds in the local government as parts of key reforms he is to enact to improve the city’s security and service delivery,.

Many of Mogadishu’s three million residents see Thabit Abdi, the youngest mayor Mogadishu ever had as well as a respected figure in diplomatic and international relations as a crusader whom they hope can lay groundwork for a functioning local government.

Abdi, 35, the former deputy Chief of Mission of the Somalia embassy in the US has been a key figure in the Somali government, having served as the chief of staff of the state house and independent Political Advisor to Governmental and Non-Governmental Organizations in the region. He also worked for the United Nations Development Programme (UNDP).

The new Somali president Mohamed Abdullahi has declared combating corruption a major priority in the country.

Meanwhile, Abdi’s long-held stand and denunciations of political corruption over the years that he worked in public offices is viewed by many as a promising way of ensuring tighter control over state resources and funds.

“I think he can turn things around for the better – his political record sums it up.” said Mohamed Hassan, a Somali parliamentarian.

For years, residents of Mogadishu saw funds meant for road works and public projects across the city gone missing. At some point under construction streets were left half-built and cluttered.

Previous mayors and governors have also been implicated in corruption cases in which private companies were fraudulently granted multi-million public work contracts and local businessmen in exchange for payoffs, problems the country’s leaders failed to address.

Across the city, people have expressed optimism over the city’s future, saying that the new mayor’s appointment will likely show a “fundamentally new dynamic” in Mogadishu’s administration.

“Having picked Thabit as the mayor of Mogadishu, president Farmajo has taken a bold and brave step in improving transparency and confront problems such as corruption.” said Mohamed Dini, a university student in Mogadishu.

As he takes office from Yusuf Hussein Jimale who was the mayor since November 2015.this week, the new mayor who will have to oversee Mogadishu’s ongoing post-conflict reconstruction hopes that he could affect positive change by “altering the mindset of the people” in the battle-scarred city in a bid to improve the city’s security and service delivery.

(Alleastafrica reporter in Mogadishu contributed to this report, editing by John Thiongo)

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