Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed on Thursday appointed a political newcomer to become prime minister, nearly two months after the country’s parliament voted out former Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khaire.
Mohamed Hussein Roble’s appointment came hours after the president and five regional leaders reached agreement on a revised election model after days of talks in Mogadishu and international pressure. The president, who in February signed historic legislation giving ordinary citizens the right to vote in parliamentary elections, conceded to having the indirect elections preferred by regional leaders.
A statement from the president’s office said Roble was directed to form a new transitional government ahead of general elections in the Horn of Africa country.
The new agreement calls for election preparations to begin November 1. Planners would determine dates in 2021 for choosing a parliament, whose members then would select the president, as in 2016. Mohamed, widely known as Farmajo, is expected to seek a second four-year term; his current term ends February 7.
Roble is expected to appear within several days for a confirmation hearing before parliament, whose members’ four-year terms expire December 27. If approved, Roble would have 30 days to pick cabinet members.
Roble, 57, brings a fresh face to the country’s political scene. He is a graduate of Somali National University, where he studied civil engineering. Roble’s representatives told VOA that after Somalia’s civil war broke out in 1991, he fled to Sweden. He has worked for the International Labor Organization, a United Nations agency, in multiple locations including Somalia.
In a short statement posted on social media, Roble said he would work with all Somalis during the transition.
Revised election model
The elections agreement revises a plan reached August 20 by Mohamed and three of five regional leaders. It was rejected by leaders of Puntland and Jubaland.
Regional leaders reportedly worried that registering individual voters would be risky, given insecurity in Somalia, and could prolong incumbents’ terms in office.
According to the new agreement, traditional elders, civil society leaders and regional authorities will select a federal map of 101 delegates from each state, who then will elect representatives to parliament. The plan likely will allow clans to retain more of the power that political parties had hoped to share.
The new 15-point agreement allows the federal government and regional administrations to appoint federal and regional electoral commissions to manage voting and related processes.
According to the revised agreement, election planning will begin November 1 in two locations in all five states. Representatives in Somaliland, which considers itself a breakaway republic, will be elected in Mogadishu, the capital.
The deal also preserves a quota guaranteeing women 30% of the seats in the parliament’s 275-member lower chamber and 54-member upper chamber.
President Mohamed said he chose Roble to consolidate security ahead of elections, rebuild the armed forces, develop infrastructure and fight corruption, a goal analysts describe as unrealistic given that Roble’s transitional term likely will not extend beyond 143 days, at most.
“The man was appointed in a critical short time when the country is preparing for elections. His major challenges include security,” said Abdirahman Mohamed Tuuryare, former director of Somalia’s National Intelligence and Security Agency. “Al-Shabab, the terrorist group, will intensify attacks in the time of elections to threaten and disrupt the process, as they did in the past.”
Liban Isse, a Mogadishu University professor of international studies, said Roble’s appointment holds promise.
“Seen as nonaligned in the Somalia political landscape, he could help pave the way for compromises and consensus” on the election process, Isse said.
Source: Voice of America
Graft Alleged as Kenya’s Fight Against COVID-19 Struggles
NAIROBI – Organizations have contributed aid worth more than $2 billion to help Kenya’s in its fight against COVID-19. But much of the aid has gone missing, prompting President Uhuru Kenyatta to order an investigation into who might have taken it.
Money and medical supplies were donated by such groups as the World Bank, the International Monetary Fund and the Jack Ma Foundation.
The Network Action Against Corruption (NAAC), an organization sanctioned by the Kenyan government to promote fiscal accountability, accuses KEMSA, a government agency that supplies medicine and medical equipment to the Ministry of Health, of embezzling hundreds of millions of dollars meant for the COVID-19 battle.
Several schemes alleged
The network said officials in KEMSA ran multiple schemes. In one, NAAC said, the organization paid for personal protective equipment (PPE) that actually had been donated by the Jack Ma Foundation. The money then went to phony companies controlled by the KEMSA officials.
In another, NAAC said, KEMSA officials contracted with fictitious shell companies to supply protective equipment. No equipment was supplied, but the companies got paid anyway.
Dr. Gordwins Agutu, chief executive officer of NAAC, said those who ran the alleged schemes also planned to resell PPE on the black market.
“The PPE kits consist of a number of items, but … the PPE kits, which they stole from Jack Ma’s donation, they would break it down,” he said. “So, they have the overalls separately, they have the boots supplied separately. So you can imagine how much were they intending to make out of that.”
Kenyatta has ordered a forensic audit into the use of both state and donor funds meant to be used to combat COVID-19.
“All persons found to be prima facie culpable as a result of those ongoing investigations should be brought to book,” he said.
Caroline Gaita, executive director at Mzalendo Trust, a parliamentary monitoring organization, said mismanagement of the money and protective gear has affected Kenya’s response to the coronavirus pandemic.
“We’ve seen even as we speak now, the level of preparedness for COVID is not there yet,” she said. “The isolation units that were meant to be put up are not ready. We’ve seen doctors complaining about lack of PPE, so it would seem we got these resources but we have not utilized them for the right reason and yet we will continue paying for them.”
Dr. Samuel Oroko, national chairman of the Kenya Medical Practitioners and Dentists Union, said the shortage of protective supplies coupled with the low quality of those made available is having far-reaching effects.
“The doctors and workers working in the outpatient department should be given N95 [masks] each and every day they see patients,” he said, adding that the limited supply and low quality of the PPE “has led to more than 1,000 health workers being infected with the coronavirus.”
Kenya’s Senate and investigative agencies have been tasked with unraveling the allegations of financial misappropriation.
Meanwhile, the country’s Health Ministry has recorded more than 36,000 confirmed cases of COVID-19.
Source: Voice of America