MOGADISHU – Somali President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud has named Abdi Farah Shirdon Saaid as the country’s new prime minister, diplomats and a government source said, the first major decision by an administration installed after over 20 years of conflict.
Saaid, a political newcomer, has been a prominent businessman in neighboring Kenya and is married to Asha Haji Elmi, an influential Somali peace activist.
A Western diplomat said Saaid had a reputation for being above Somalia’s notoriously volatile clan politics, similar to the new president, and the news of his appointment would be welcomed by foreign governments.
“Like all the decisions the new president has made so far, this is a good one, and Somalia is on a bit of a roll with the election of (Mohamed Osman) Jawaari as parliament speaker and Mohamud as president,” the diplomatic source told Reuters.
Mohamud, a former academic and a political newcomer himself, was elected president in a secret ballot on September 10, a result hailed by his supporters as a vote for change in the Horn of Africa state ravaged by war and anarchy since 1991.
Saaid’s appointment as the prime minister will have to be approved by Somali legislators, diplomatic sources said.