What informed the appointment of the politically unknown and youthful Hassan Ali Khaire as prime minister of Somalia? That could turn out to be the easiest question to answer about Somalia’s politics.
It would appear newly elected President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed Farmajo’s choice of Khaire was a wise move intended to avoid falling out with the two major Hawiye sub-clans — the Abgal and the Habargidir.
Sources in Mogadishu say that while the president was obliged to appoint a Hawiye as the prime minister as per the 4.5 power-sharing formula, the lobbying and the pressure from both Abgal and the Habargidir forced him to choose someone neutral. And in came Khaire, who hails from the Morursabe sub-clan of the populous Hawiye.
Given the delicate inter-clan politics that has seen many foreign ministers resign after a few months in the government, the president was facing a situation where if he chose either Abgal or Habargidir, one of the clans was likely to rebel and cause trouble for his government.
The Abgal are the most influential sub-clan in Mogadishu and have produced two former presidents — Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Sheikh Sharif Ahmed.
Mr Khaire, a prominent businessman and former employee of Soma Oil & Gas, a British energy explorer company, has Norwegian nationality. He worked with the Norwegian Refugee Council from 2011 to 2014 as its Horn of Africa regional executive.
The Somalia government had earlier nominated Mr Khaire for the post of executive secretary for the Inter-Governmental Authority on Development (Igad), to take over from the outgoing Mahboub Maalim from Kenya.
Parliament is expected to approve the appointment of Mr Khaire, who will then name a Cabinet, which must also be approved by parliament.