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Last Updated: Tuesday, 5 August, 2003, 15:21 GMT 16:21 UK
Profile: Somalia's isolated leader
By Hassan Barise
BBC, Mogadishu

President Salat Hassan of Somalia
Mr Hassan likes to keep to himself
Somali President Abdulkassim Salat Hassan came into power three years ago with the promise of accommodating all the warring militia factions in the capital, Mogadishu.

But as his tenure comes to an end on 11 August, Mogadishu is as divided as ever, with Mr Hassan's government controlling only 25% of the capital.

His transitional national government is also divided over the future of the on-going Somalia peace talks in the Kenyan capital Nairobi.

Mr Hassan has pulled out of the talks, while his prime minister and a large number of ministers have opted to continue participating at the Nairobi talks.

Recognition

Mr Hassan is, however, credited with one major achievement: All of Somalia's main clans are represented in his government.

He has also ensured the beginnings of recognition for Somalia at the African Union and the Arab League.

Mr Hassan was born in central Somalia some 61 years ago, the son of an intellectual former clan chieftain, Salat Hassan Boy.
Somalia militia
Mr Hassan is accused of failing to secure Mogadishu

He took his degree in biology and science in Moscow, returning home in 1968.

He contested a parliamentary seat in 1969 before the last civilian government was overthrown in a bloodless military coup led by Major-General Mohamed Siad Barre.

His father, Salat Boy, was killed by President Barre's Marrehan clan, and in order to bury the hatchet, the former president appointed Mr Hassan into the cabinet in which he held nine different positions during President Barre's 21-year-rule.

Witty

Unlike his father who believed in polygamy, Mr Hassan has been married to only one wife with whom he still lives.

But there is one quality Mr Hassan is believed to have inherited from his father - a hot temper.

He is also well known for a good sense of humour and a way with words.

He often uses verses from the Koran to emphasise what he says.

Mr Hassan was elected as president of the Somali transitional government three years ago in Djibouti.

But he has failed to win round warlords opposed to his government.

Recluse

Before becoming president, he was a peace activist - his grouping known as Walalaha 'brothers' is believed to have propelled him to the presidency.

Those close to him say Mr Hassan likes to keep to himself, often remaining in a closed room either reading or watching television.

He also enjoys swimming and playing table tennis.

He has seven children - three sons and four daughters. He lost his two eldest sons in 1980 and 1990.

He neither smokes nor takes alcohol - he is said to have given up the habits while serving in the late President Barre's government.

Other than his native Somali language, he also speaks English, Arabic, Russian and Italian.

His ambition and presidency will be tested in the coming days as his term of office expires.




SEE ALSO:
Analysis: Somalia's powerbrokers
08 Jan 02  |  Africa
Somalis agree government
05 Jul 03  |  Africa


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