Somali prime minister appoints former Al Shabaab spokesman as minister

The Prime Minister of Somalia, Hamse Abdi Barre, has appointed a new cabinet composed of 25 ministers, including Mujtar Robow, former spokesman and ‘number two’ of the jihadist organization Al Shabaab, who will hold the portfolio of Religion.

Robow, 53, was arrested at the end of 2018, days before the elections for the presidency of the Southwest Somalia region, and had been imprisoned since December 2018, as reported by the Puntland Post news portal.

The arrest of the former Al Shaabab member — which sparked protests — came after the government of Mohamed Abdulahi ‘Farmajo’ accused him of “organizing a militia” in Baidoa, the capital of the southwestern region of the Bay, and trying to “undermine stability.”

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In 2017, he decided to lay down his arms and surrender to government forces after the United States offered a $5 million reward on his capture. Better known as ‘Robow’, Mujtar fell out of favor with Al Shabaab in 2013.

The Somali prime minister, who delivered a brief speech before the nominations, which include 56 members among the 25 ministers and 26 deputy ministers, Somali radio station Radio Muqdisho has reported.

Somalia is facing an increase in the number of attacks by the Islamist militia Al Shabaab, both in the capital, Mogadishu, and in other areas in the south of the country, which has led the new president, Hassan Shaykh Mohamud, to promise to focus his efforts on security during the first 100 days of his mandate.

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