(Updates with Khaire's resignation from Soma)
By Feisal Omar
MOGADISHU Feb 23 Somalia's newly elected
president on Thursday appointed the country director of British
firm Soma Oil and Gas as the new prime minister, raising
questions about possible conflicts of interest in the Horn of
President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as "Farmajo",
named Hassan Ali Khaire as prime minister, state radio website
Radio Muqdisho.net said.
"The president has requested Somali citizens to work with
the prime minister," the statement on Radio Muqdisho.net said.
Mohamed took office peacefully this month after legislators
selected him from 21 possible candidates. A dual U.S.-Somali
citizen with a reputation as a technocrat, he has promised to
tackle hunger, corruption and violence in Somalia, which has
been mired in civil war for a quarter of a century.
Khaire, his new prime minister, is a dual Norwegian citizen
who once worked as a primary school teacher in Norway and also
for the Norwegian Refugee Council before joining Soma Oil and
In 2015, U.N. sanctions experts accused the company of
paying Somalia's oil ministry nearly $600,000 to protect an 2013
energy exploration contract.
The accusation triggered an investigation by Britain's
Serious Fraud Office, but last December authorities concluded
there was insufficient evidence to prosecute.
Khaire had resigned from his job as the executive director
for Africa, to allow him to take up the job of prime minister,
Soma Oil said in a statement on Thursday. He had also given up
all his shares in the firm, it added.
The president's office told Reuters Khaire had
"automatically" resigned from Soma after he was appointed prime
minister, although his nomination must still be confirmed by
"New PM means there will be absolutely no accountability for
4yrs of corruption. And status quo will continue.
Disappointed," tweeted prominent anti-corruption campaigner
The new government's first priority will be tackling
Islamist insurgent group al Shabaab, which wants to impose
strict sharia law and has carried out increasingly deadly bomb
attacks in the capital and southern parts of Somalia.
Around 22,000 regional peacekeeping troops under African
Union command have clawed back territory from the insurgents in
recent years, but Somalia's own armed forces are crippled by
corruption. Soldiers say they have not been paid in months.
Aid workers say a prolonged drought means 6.2 million
Somalis will need aid this year, more than half the country's
(writing by Elias Biryabarema; editing by Katharine Houreld and