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Last Updated: Thursday, 4 November 2004, 16:10 GMT
Profile: Ali Mohamed Ghedi
By Abdirahman Koronto
BBC correspondent in Nairobi

Somalia's new prime minister, 52-year-old Ali Mohamed Ghedi, is no career politician, but as an intellectual it is hoped he will command the respect of the country's many warlords.

Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi
Prime Minister Ghedi has political clout in Mogadishu

He faces a tough road ahead, tasked with setting up a cabinet within the next month, and installing the government in Mogadishu - Somalia's capital - a city controlled by opposing and heavily armed groups.

A qualified vet, Mr Ghedi is relatively unknown in political circles, and was only sworn in as a member of Somalia's parliament-in-exile hours before his appointment, after a Mogadishu warlord gave up his seat for him.

It is his affiliation to the Hawiye clan of Mogadishu, one of Somalia's two biggest clans, which is seen as his greatest strength.

Newly elected President Abdullahi Yusuf is from the other big clan, the Darod, and is unpopular in Mogadishu.

His choice of prime minister is part of a fine balancing act to try to bring reconciliation to the country divided into clan fiefdoms after 13 years of civil war.

Committed campaigner

After finishing school in his home-city of Mogadishu, Mr Ghedi went on to study veterinary medicine at universities in Somalia and Italy.

Somali parliament speaker Shariff Hassan Sheik Adan
Shariff Hassan Sheik Adan has a reputation for honesty
Until the outbreak of the civil war, he was a lecturer and researcher at the Somali National University.

But with university's closure, he turned his attention to reviving the livestock trade crippled by the conflict, as a special advisor and marketing consultant to various regional livestock bodies.

From Nairobi he also oversaw an internationally funded animal disease control programme for Somalia.

Since the outbreak of conflict, Mr Ghedi has been a committed campaigner in the reconciliation process.

As the founding member and president of the Somalia NGO Consortium, an umbrella group of non-governmental organisations in Somalia, he attended many reconciliation meetings in Somalia and abroad.

He is not a military man, nor was he linked to any armed group during the war - although, in the 1970s, he did complete his military service training.

Married with children, he has a rather serious demeanour, and is not regarded as a great orator, expressing himself in short, sharp sentences.

Looking younger than his years, Mr Ghedi seems relaxed about the massive task confronting him, and confident about his abilities to heal Somalia's fragmented political scene.

He will preside over a cabinet and government with no civil service or buildings to meet in, and a country with little infrastructure.

Your comments on Mr Ghedi's appointment and his tasks ahead.

Is it a difficult job? You bet. Is it surmountable? You bet. If Mr Ghedi appeals to the common cause of the Somalis and brings some sense into the futility of the continuous, petty disagreements which brings nothing but death and destruction to all and instead convinces the warlords, Somalia has a very good chance of attaining what was thought of as impossible.

Remember, the Somali masses in every region consider each other as brethren. They trade, intermarry and work with each other on daily basis. It is only the warlords that are in disarray.

The first priority should be introducing some kind of civility in the daily affairs of the parliament and to focus on the bigger picture of serving the nation and its people, who have endured more than their share of deprivation, death and destitution, rather than continuing the short sighted, egoistical tendencies of the warlords and the past regimes.
Rashid Ali, Baltimore, USA

The wider Somali public do not the know this prime Minster which will make it harder for him to connect with the average Somali, but his greatest asset is that he not a warlord which is a plus because Somalis have alarming contempt for those that wage war.

The prime minster must form his cabinet from the pool of warlords that control the standing militia in Mogadishu... He must bring them into the fold of accountability and also meet their demands.

They are the Somalia's problem. Somali people trade together, intermarry, travel across regions. We really have no problem among us.

I wish him all the best...we are watching this one!!!

Hussein Ali Yusuf, Columbus OHIO
Hussein Yusuf,, Columbus OHIO

It is indeed enormous task is awaiting the new prime minster. I strongly believe Mr Gedi is the right man for the right position at the right time. His priority should be maintaining peace and stability without it nothing is possible. In order to do so, simply, he has to collect the weapons.
Mohamed Aden Osman, San Jose, California

Yes it is a hard job. It is not an easy task for an intellectual because this land of another human race called Somali that respects humanity not that respects intellectuals. But we need to tame them. Yusuf - what a wonderful president - this is a man who declared all the warlords persona non grata by appointing Ghedi. We hope this will be fine yeah the world must support Yusuf and Ghedi
Mohamed Abdi Hassan, Nairobi, Kenya

I worked with Prof Ghedi in Mogadishu in the 1990s while both of us worked in the humanitarian sector in the war-torn Somalia. As an executive director of Somalia based non-governmental organization, Mr Ghedi was instrumental in the development of Somalia's agricultural sector. On the other hand, he was involved in the empowerment of Somalia's civil society and demonstrated strong leadership in that arena. Premier Ghedi has capability to build a cohesive and robust cabinet for the contemporary Somalia that has been devastated by civil war for 14 years. Now that he is charged to form and lead reconciliatory and broad-based Somali Government, his overarching agenda should be to win the support of armed warlords, who have been responsible for the devastation of Somalia. Overall, Prof Ghedi is very likely to play a key role in the establishment of the newly formed Somali Government in the capital(Mogadishu), which is the home of the Hawiye community in which President Abdullahi Yusuf is currently unpopular.
Mohamud Mire Mohamed, Springfield, Massachusetts, USA

This is not a simple task which can be done with a few minutes of thought, indeed it requires all the qualities that a great leader can display such as strong leadership, trustworthiness, honesty and equity in every step of the way. As Mr Ghedi's background is without political qualifications and experiences, it can be argued that he is not up to the task, however, the question is who is the other person who can fill such a vital position at this time? I think he will struggle if does not surround himself with men and women with high qualities and attributes. Mr Ghedi will need to be very careful when it comes to the composition of his cabinet, this is because, ethnic groups will demand specific positions within the government and it will be very difficult to convince some of them to fall in line with the process. I think his focus at this time should be how to convince the warlords to accept government positions which they will be given. Times to consider merits and qualifications are still ahead and should be waited for with patience.
Abdi Abdi, Australia

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