Former Al-Shabaab leader is appointed as minister of religion by Somalia’s PM
According to Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Tuesday, Somalia has named the former spokesperson and deputy head of the Al-Shabaab jihadist organization as minister of religion.
The news is a dramatic turn of events for Muktar Robow, who has been living under house arrest for the past four years due to a dispute with former president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, also known as Farmajo.
In August 2017, Robow, 53, officially announced his defection from the terrorists affiliated with Al-Qaeda, and the US government at one point offered a $5 million reward for his capture.
“After more than 30-day-long meetings… I’m delighted to introduce Somali men and women who I believe will meet the needs of the nation because of their academic qualifications, experience, and justice, Barre remarked.
Days before he was supposed to run in local elections, Robow was detained in the latter half of 2018.
In order to “undermine stability,” Farmajo’s government charged him with “forming a militia” in Baidoa, the region’s capital in the southwest of the Bay.
As a result of their accusations that Farmajo was interfering in local matters, protesters burned pictures of him after his detention.
His appointment comes a few weeks after recently elected President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud signalled that his administration may be open to talks with Al-Shabaab, but only when the circumstances were appropriate.
Despite an African Union campaign against the organization, Al-Shabaab has been waging a deadly uprising against Somalia’s weak central government for 15 years and continues to be a formidable force.
Although its fighters were driven out of Mogadishu, the capital of Somalia, in 2011, they still carry out attacks on civilian, military, and governmental targets.
Barre claimed that the lengthy election process in the country, which culminated in May with the choice of Mohamud as president, was to blame for the delays in naming a government after his appointment on June 25.
In a 75-member team, the deputy prime minister, 25 ministers, 24 state ministers, and deputy ministers were all appointed on Tuesday. The nominees will be voted on by parliament.
The approaching famine and the raging Islamist insurgency are only two of the many difficulties the new government must overcome.
According to UN statistics, a severe drought in the Horn of Africa has caused 7.1 million Somalis, or nearly half the population, to struggle with hunger, with more than 200,000 people on the verge of going hungry.
Mohamud stated in July that more than just a military strategy was needed to put an end to the bloody insurgency.