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Security and drought dominate the agenda at first federal cabinet meeting

Thursday September 1, 2022


Mogadishu (HOL) - Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre chaired his first weekly cabinet meeting on Thursday, which focused on the security situation in Somalia,  drought-relief efforts and his recent travel to Tunisia.

Somalia is approaching near-famine conditions in many of the hardest hit regions. Interior Minister Ahmed Moallim Fiqi updated the cabinet on ongoing efforts to alleviate the effects of the drought.

Thousands of people who have been displaced by the drought have poured into relief camps in Baidoa, the administrative centre of the South West state of Somalia, in search of assistance.

The United Nations has warned of widespread famine if urgent needs are unmet. Over one million people, or 6% of the total population, have been displaced. FAO Somalia said it needs $130 million to fully fund its famine prevention plan as it prepares for a fifth failed rainy season this autumn.

The cabinet was also briefed on the military offensive being undertaken by the SNA against Al Shabaab militants in their strongholds in central Somalia.

The SNA partnered with local militias to secure several villages - sometimes with the support of US airstrikes - as part of its central Somalia summer offensive launched in June.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud seems to have changed his tone towards the group, initially putting forth a more conciliatory approach and floating the unprecedented idea of negotiating with the insurgency instead of the military-only strategy. However, Al-Shabaab's longest-ever hotel siege in the heart of the capital in mid-August, which killed dozens of civilians, seems to have hardened his resolve to defeat the group. Following a meeting with the nation's security officials, Mohamud's administration declared it would wage "total war" against the organization.

It is unclear if the cabinet discussed a strategy to improve cooperation with the Federal Member States following their announcement to suspend collaboration with Mogadishu this week. The regional administrations accused the federal government of reneging on its fiscal responsibilities to the regional states.

Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre recently returned from Tunis, where he attended his first significant international trip as the PM. Barre briefed cabinet members on the meetings he had with other African leaders on the sidelines of the Japan-hosted TICAD8 conference.

While in Tunis, PM Barre met with Moussa Faki Mahamat, the Chairperson of the African Union; Abdikadir Kamil Mohamed, the Prime Minister of Djibouti; Imed Memmich, the Minister of National Defence of Tunisia; and Yoshimasa Hayashi, the Japanese Minister of Foreign Affairs.

Somalia's cabinet, or Council of Ministers, met for the first time last week during the Ministerial Orientation Session.



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