Somalis celebrate appointment of New PM
By Hassan Isilow
JOHANESBURG: Hundreds of Somali nationals living in Johannesburg took to the streets of Mayfair on Saturday celebrating the appointment of Abdi Farah Shirdon as their country’s new prime minister. The Somalis closed off a section of Bird Street and 9th Avenue in Mayfair, where they sang liberation songs and danced in anticipation of peace. Somalis all over the world have been optimistic ever since parliament elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s new President.
“I believe Shirdon will appoint a good cabinet acceptable to all, which could end the long conflict in our country,” Mowaz Abdirazak told me during the celebrations. “I have a feeling that the war in Somalia is about to end. And the new president and prime minister is the team Somalia has been waiting for. They have a good track record and most people I have spoken to seem to love them. It is a new dawn in Somalia,” one prominent Somali journalist who did not want to be named related.
The celebrations in Johannesburg were attended by Somali nationals from different political camps and they all seemed to agree on one thing, which was to end the conflict. Somalia has experienced a civil war since the over throw of Mohammad Siyad Bare in 1991. South Africa is host to over 80,000 Somalis, majority of whom are refugees dealing in the small business sector.
Somalia’s new Prime Minister, Abdi Farah Shirdon a political newcomer, was appointed on Saturday by President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud. This is the first major decision to be made by a democratically elected President in Somalia after over 20 years of conflict. Leaders of the Transitional Federal Government (TFG) which served Somalia for the last eight years never had independent powers to make such decisions. The west was always the major decision makers.
The new Prime minister has vowed to form a “quality” Cabinet which will not tolerate corruption. He said the government he forms will move past the disputes Somali political leaders have engaged in previously. Shirdon studied economics at Somalia National University in the 1970s. He also served as an economist in the ministries of finance and agriculture in the 1980s before relocating to Kenya in 1991.
Abdullah Ali, a Somali analyst living in Cape Town, told me the appointment of the new prime minister would usher in a new chapter in the lives of the Somalis. “The Prime minister is a man of integrity, a man who has a passion in serving the people of Somalia and I believe he will unite all Somalis,” he said. Follow me on twitter @hisilow