Somalia Appoints Al Shabaab Co-founder As Religion Minister

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Somali Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre on Tuesday named a co-founder and spokesman of the Islamist al Shabaab as minister for religious affairs, a move that could either help strengthen the fight against the insurgents or provoke further clan clash.

Barre said in televised remarks that Robow, who once had a $5 million U.S. bounty on his head before he split from al Shabaab in 2013, would serve as the minister in charge of religion.

The previous government arrested him in December 2018 in Somalia’s South West region as he campaigned for the regional presidency.

The protests that followed were quashed with deadly force with security forces shooting at least 11 people.

“After much deliberation with the president and the public, I have named cabinet ministers who have education and experience and they will fulfill their duties. I ask the parliament to approve the cabinet,” Barre said before announcing the cabinet appointees.

Some analysts have speculated that Robow, who subsequently denounced al-Shabab could help strengthen government forces in his native Bakool region, where the insurgency holds substantial amounts of territory.

New President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, elected by lawmakers in May, has promised to take the fight against the insurgency after three years in which his predecessor, consumed by political infighting, took little action against al Shabaab.

BY REUTERS

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