Somalia’s Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre has named former al Shabaab group spokesperson Muktar Robow as a minister in the country’s new cabinet.
Prime Minister Abdi Barre said in televised session that Robow, who once had a $5 million bounty on his head before he split from al Shabaab in 2013, would serve as the minister in charge of religion.
In 2018, he was arrested by the previous government in Somalia’s South West region as he campaigned for the regional presidency.
The move by the premier could either help strengthen the fight against the insurgency or kindle internecine riots.
It was followed by protests which were quickly quashed by government’s security forces wherein 11 people died.
“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.
Social commentators opine that Robow, who later denounced al Shabaab, could help strengthen government forces in his native Bakool region, where the insurgents hold considerable control.
President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, recently elected by lawmakers in May, has promised to take the fight to the insurgency after three years in which his predecessor, consumed by political infighting, took little action against al Shabaab.
This led to al Shabaab building substantial reserves of credit and carry out attacks over wide swathes of the country.
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