WardheerNews series- What’s in a Picture
On February 8, 2017, Somalia’s Federal Parliament elected Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo as the new president to lead Somalia out of chronic widespread corruption and endless political gridlock. On February 23, President Farmajo lost no time in nominating Hassan Ali Kheyre to be his Prime Minister. It was indeed a shock and awe moment: Somalia, which was yearning for a change and a new leadership, would have Kheyre as its new Prime Minster.
Kheyre is notorious for being mentioned in March 2016 U.N. Monitoring Group for Somalia and Eritrea (SEMG) report for alleged corruption and illicit dealings with Al Shabab.
Kheyre, a former head of the East and Horn of Africa Regions of the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) from 2011 to 2014, made millions of dollars at the backs of the humanitarian aid destined for the helpless refugees and displaced.
Many wonder how a humanitarian staffer was able to accumulate so much wealth within a short period of time and buy $ 2 million worth of shares from dubious oil company, Soma Oil and Gas, an entity which was founded solely for pillaging Somalia’s natural resources.
Kheyre’s involvement with the Soma Oil and Gas as one of its senior executive was a potential source of conflict of interest. However, that didn’t stop Farmajo offering him the premier post because of Kheyre’s ties with Fahad Yasin, the current chief of staff and the major financier of Farmajo’s presidential election bid. This was an early sign that, indeed, President Farmajo was a fraud and not true to his many promises of combating corruption and mismanagement.
To add insult to an injury, when Kheyre formed his cabinet, it included the usual suspects—many figures and cronies of Hassan Sheikhs’s failed government.
Soon after Kheyre’s new cabinet was approved by the parliament, he plainly asked the new cabinet, in a haphazard way, to declare their assets—strangely to him privately, but not to disclose it publicly. He was at the same time hiding his assets from the public! Mr Kheyre didn’t follow any procedures for processing and verifying such declared information from the cabinet, nor did he put in place sanctions for violations.
To keep their posts, all the members of his cabinet in fact submitted all the necessary documents regarding their assets and financial holdings, but there was never credible verification nor investigation. This was a sham exercise, Kheyre acting both as a judge and jury. Strangely, this was all for a show, an action that has become his main daily rituals.
Kheyre is obsessed with fame and grandstanding. He doesn’t miss a moment to be the center of attention, often posing himself with the unpaid soldiers, helpless and bereft children, elderly, uttering empty slogans and conveying false hope. It fits here to borrow a phrase from a former U.S. diplomat to adopt to illustrate his rhetoric: “How do you know when [PM Kheryre] is not telling the truth: because his lips are moving.”
Recently, when Somalia’s under-17 national football team returned from the Central and East Africa Football Federation’s championship game in Burundi to Mogadishu, Kheyre (see the photo) met them at the airport in a big fanfare and pompous display of showmanship for the sake of photo –op. Regretfully, the Prime Minister suddenly left after the brief celebration in his motorcade, leaving behind the young players scrambling to catch ride with BAJAJ.
Apart from his hollow promises, the Prime Minister is also known to deride little people. Case in point: the good PM publicly chastised and shamed a soldier, who had a side talk, during the PM’s usual no substance, blah blah blah speech. Instead of leaving the incident to be handled with care by the event managers, Kheyre couldn’t wait to jump on the soldier, who incidentally works tirelessly to defend the country, without timely and decent pay or rights to publicly humiliate him.
Many question, God forbids, what would stop from the mortified soldier and many of his colleagues, after witnessing such uncalled behavior from their PM, to commit a vengeful act, or commit a heinous crime, or join the extremist Al Shabab militant group?
One of his other common practices is also his routine visits to the government ministries in what he calls “inspection visits,” as though he is running a daycare center that requires constant checking on toddlers. Moreover, during such visits, it has became routine that the prime minister sits at the chair of the visited cabinet member and the latter sits at the guest chair.
The optic clearly shows who is in charge. Call this a shameful act of someone who lacks self-confidence and moral capacity.
That is the real Kheyre, the current prime minister of Somalia, who is out of touch with the daunting challenges and condition of the Somali people.
Somalia faces enormous challenges, as it remains not only one of the poorest countries in the world, but also the most unstable and violent one. Thus, the PM needs to know his duties, priorities, and strategies to face such challenges.
Talk is cheap, results matter.
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