EDITORIAL: Here is why PM Hamza Abdi Barre could be good for Somalia
EDITORIAL: Somalia PM nominee Hamza Abdi Barre may wait to see if MPs endorse him for the post, signalling the start of what looks like a new chapter in Somalia. Given recent trends, there may be horse-trading, but his record in public indicates he may just pass with flying colours
And there are lessons from his own career for Somalis, which may eventually benefit the country in need of leadership and direction. One such lesson is loyalty. Barre has been with President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud since 2010, or before.
They were friends before they joined politics. They worked together in promoting education opportunities as well as children’s right to education.
They were together when they formed the party; Peace and Development Party, which was later renamed the Union for Peace and Development Party. Barre remained Secretary-General even as his peers jostled for political seats. And he remained in the party even when it looked like Hassan Sheikh Mohamud would be consumed by the jinx of former presidents never being elected.
If his loyalty continues, Barre’s leadership under Mohamud may be stable, avoiding wrangles that punctuated previous administrations where PMs have been fired by the roadside.
Of course, he has had to be patient. In Somalia’s ever-changing politics, political alignments can never be predictable. Barre comes from the south, where coalitions between clans can often limit one’s political chances. As MP, he probably had just started his.
Yet he had been a longtime ally of Mohamud in the party. It is his loyalty that may have paid off finally. But it is also good to note that he didn't use it to betray his own base, which may explain why he still managed to be elected MP in Kismayu.
In future, if Barre’s appointment is anything to go by, we may have to look at people who have had great service among the people of Somalia to decide if they fit as PM or Ministers. Previous regimes often picked people who had lived most of their lives abroad, hardly feeling the pain on the ground. Barre’s advantage is that he chose to set up where few dared, owing to the then Al-Shabaab menace. We presume he has a local touch, which may blend in well with President Mohamud’s leadership to help turn around the country.
Of course, we are not blind to past experiences where clean-looking individuals have been hired into government only to show their previously hidden colours.
We wish Mr Barre good luck in his next hurdle and hope that as his boss, he can use his long stay in Somalia, and experience studying abroad, to correct past mistakes for Somalia’s prosperity.