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Who is Hassan Ali Khaire? Somalia's newly appointed Prime Minister

Hiiraan Online
Thursday February 23, 2017

Hassan Ali Khaire was appointed Prime Minister by Somali President Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo on Thursday morning

Mogadishu (HOL) - President Farmajo announced on Thursday morning that he has appointed Hassan Ali Khaire as Somalia's Prime Minister.

Mr. Khaire lived in Norway in from 1989 and is a dual Somali-Norwegian citizen. He is an aid worker who spent over a decade working with the Norwegian Refugee Council (NRC) working his way up to be the regional director for the Horn of Africa area.

He also has business interests in Somalia, he was the director of Soma Oil and Gas. The company made headlines in 2016 for being at the centre of investigations by the UN Somalia and Eritrea Monitoring Group (SEMG) and the UK, a charge both he and the company vigorously fought- and won.

Hassan Ali Khaire was born in 1967 in Somalia to a family from the Murusade tribe, a branch of the larger Hawiye tribe. He graduated from primary and secondary school in Mogadishu. At the onset of the civil war, Khaire moved to Norway where he enrolled at the University of Oslo in 1994. While in university, Khaire was active in the Somali Students Association, according to a friend.

After graduating in 1998 with a degree in political science and minor in sociology, Hassan Ali Khaire went on to the University of Edinburgh where he completed his MBA  in 2001.

After graduation, he moved back to Oslo where he began working with the NRC at their headquarters.

Khaire briefly left the NGO for a few years to pursue business endeavors but in 2006 he returned to the NRC as an area manager. He remained at the NRC for the next 9 years as he worked his way up to County Director and eventually the Regional Director for the Horn of Africa.

Hassan Khaire (left) met with Queen Sonja of Norway when she visited Dadaab during a telethon in 2010. Chair was then the County Director for the NRC. PHOTO: ERLEND AAS / SCANPIX

After nearly a decade in the NGO field, Khaire moved on to the public sector joining Soma Oil. According to the company's website, Hassan Khaire has been with the country since its inception in 2013.

Both Hassan and Soma Oil faced serious charges by various groups. Hassan Khaire was accused of having links to extremist groups while Soma Oil and it's chairman Michael Howard faced corruption investigations by UK's Serious Fraud Office (SFO). They all maintained their innocence from the beginning and were eventually cleared by their accusers after rigorous scrutiny.

A dispatch from the SEMG panel's coordinator to the Security Council last year affirmed that he was no longer under investigations.

“The SEMG has investigated links between Mr. Hassan Khaire and extremist groups,” it states. “I wish to confirm that the SEMG has not found credible evidence of such links and that, in the absence of any new information received by the SEMG clearly demonstrating such links, we now consider this line of inquiry to have reached a conclusion.”

Similarily, the SFO ended its investigation of Soma Oil after a 17-month probe into the company's inner workings.

An SFO spokesman said: "The SFO has concluded, based on the information and material we have obtained, that there is insufficient evidence to provide a realistic prospect of conviction.

Hassan Ali Khaire speaks fluent Somali, Norwegian and English. He has been described by those who know him as calm and very bright. The father of three is an accomplished technocrat who led an international NGO. His experience as regional director for one of the most drought-stricken regions in the world will be key for Somalia as the looming famine is of immediate concern.

Although Hassan Ali Khaire has never held public office, over the course of his career he has worked with a range of high-level executives and government officials in various capacities. His deep rolodex is rumoured to have names of ambassadors, leaders of industry and prominent businessmen in the region.

The Prime Minister is expected to immediately start fielding candidates for appointments as he assembles his cabinet . In his first official address as a Prime Minister, Hassan Ali Khaire said that he would consult with Parliament and the President in his decision.

“I will form an inclusive government which meets the expectations and aspirations of Somalis. I will also consult widely with Parliament and the President,” said Khayre.


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