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Why Somali PM remains popular among poor citizens in Somalia

Interactions with average Somalis was apparently important for him. From playing soccer with young beach-goers and taking note of their views, Somali prime minister paved way for citizens’ engagements with the government.

By Judy Maina,

NAIROBI – Hassan Ali Khaire, tapped as the unassuming Somali leader, is widely known for his close associations and regular interactions with the country’s poor class and his smooth communication with the media.

Appointed as prime minister in February, Mr. Khaire, was credited for coming up with creative ideas for mending relations between the country’s leaders, that often maintain secret life, keeping average citizens in the dark and the public.

Interactions with average Somalis was apparently important for him. From playing soccer with young beach-goers and taking note of their views, Somali prime minister paved way for citizens’ engagements with the government.

Despite potential security threats involved, Mr. Khaire who spoke extemporaneously and with such brutal honesty considered interactions with Mogadishu residents and improving relations with the media in general a ‘critical’ work that could help bridge relations between the public and the country’s leaders.

FILE – Somalia’s Prime Minister Hassan Ali-Khaire addresses lawmakers during a parliament session in the capital Mogadishu, March 1, 2017.

Born in Galhareri, a town in central Somalia, Mr. Khaire, 49, who worked as a former oil company executive and the Norwegian Refugee Council  is seen by many as a positive hope for Somalia.

8 reasons why Somali prime minister is popular among his fellow Somalis

  1. He created a strong bond between the government and the public. With his usual interactions with different classes of people in Somalia which saw him spending time and drinking tea with young and poor Somalis at modest shops in the Somali capital.
  2. His hard-line stance towards corruption got Somalia close to a perfect score in the Corruption Perceptions Index. Since he took office, Mr. Khaire has repeatedly warned officials that the era of the corruption practice, followed by strict enforcement of anti-corruption measures, something Somalia which once topped the world’s most corrupt states index failed to implement. Somalia’s finance minister Abdirahman Baileh has recently declared that the country’s economy prospect was improving.
  3. His powerful and inspirational speeches for young, unemployed and hopeless young people,. Mr. Khaire’s elevating messages to the Somali youth who were largely denied of employment opportunities by corrupt officials have empowered and made young men and women to believe there are better days ahead to find the solution and turn things around for their lives.
  4. His government’s security plan has paid off. Soon after he was appointed as the prime minister, Mr. Khaire’s government has ensured the welfare of the army, paying their salaries on regular basis which boosted the once-fading morale of the security forces, and marked the beginning of a comprehensive security plan that contributed in the decline of militants attacks across the Somali capital significantly. In his speeches, the prime minister has repeatedly declared security as a top priority.
  5. His government’s military strategy against Al-Shabab has had a significant impact on the battlefields. Under his administration, Somalia’s special forces (commandos) have carried out several depredation raids in the heart of rebel-held areas, the first military tactic employed by any Somali government,  as parts of new counterterrorism missions that security officials said helped undermine al-Shabab’s capability to carry out attacks on government-held areas as before. Dozens of al-Shabab fighters and commanders were killed in the attacks that also helped the government in gathering intelligence.
  6. Ensuring payment for both Soldiers and civil servants in addition to feeding its soldiers on regular basis. Unlike his predecessors who rarely paid the army and civil servants under pretext of lack of funds by donors, Mr. Khaire’s government implemented new financial regulations that paved way for paying soldiers and civil servants, using revenues. collected from the country’s key revenue sources.
  7. His focus on public consultations to understand the different interests of country’s citizens: Since taking office, Mr. Khaire considered public consultations and engaging citizens in policy-making as an investment in good governance, helping to build public trust in government which used citizens as partners in policy-making , with the aim of making the best use of resources – human, financial, natural and environmental – at its disposal.

    Somali prime minister Hassan Ali Khaire sharing moments and holds a basketball during a social interaction with young men and woman at the Mogadishu beach

“Good governance is an ideal which is difficult to achieve at this moment in Somalia but we have to start somewhere”  Mr. Khaire said during a recent Q&A public session in Mogadishu.

  1. He avoided the usual recurrent political squabbling between for Somali presidents and their prime ministers . Political feuds between former presidents and their prime ministers had been a major problem that has subsequently triggered political crisis of which the international community warned would taking Somalia backwards, something Mr. Khaire has steered clear of since he was picked as the prime minister, making sure to be on good terms with the president which helped the government to escape potential political chaos.

(Additional reporting by Alleastafrica reporter in Mogadishu, Somalia, editing by Jeff Mwaura)

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