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Last Updated: Monday, 29 October 2007, 16:11 GMT
Profile: Ali Mohamed Ghedi
Fromer Somali Prime Minister Ali Mohamed Ghedi
Ali Mohamed Ghedi has had a long feud with President Yusuf
He was portrayed as a man with no political skeletons - an intellectual with a clean slate who could foster reconciliation between the warring clans of Somalia.

But many wondered whether Mohammed Ali Ghedi was politically skilled enough to be the prime minister that could end a long-running civil war - and in his three-year stint he failed to achieve peace.

He first become known as a 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.

But whereas some painted him as an intellectual, not a politician, with no military background, others claimed he was his father's son with a history steeped in intelligence, military service and close links to the current Ethiopian President, Meles Zenawi.

The clan question

The 56-year-old owed his position to his bloodline: the son of a colonel in the Somali National Security Service (NSS) under the reign of Siad Barre, born into the Apgal subclan of Somalia's most powerful clan, the Hawiye.

Members of the Somalia parliament in exile
A distant relative gave up his parliamentary seat for Mr Ghedi

He was hand-picked as prime minister by President Abdullahi Ahmed Yusuf (who is from Somalia's second biggest clan, the Darod) at a time when he did not even have a seat in Somalia's parliament-in-exile.

It was hoped he would be able to unite the Mogadishu Hawiye factions behind the transitional government.

But he never managed this, and whilst in office survived a number of assassination attempts and votes of no-confidence.

'The Ethiopia connection'

Sceptics portrayed Mr Ghedi as a puppet of the United States and its ally Ethiopia.

Numerous sources pointed to links between Mr Ghedi's father and Ethiopia's president Meles Zenawi, claiming that in the mid 1980s, Mr Ghedi's father was assigned as coordinator between the Somali government of the day and Meles Zenawi, the then head of the Tigray People's Liberation Front (TPLF).

It is alleged that Mohammed Ali Ghedi, who completed his military service in the 1970s, was recruited by the NSS while in secondary school and worked for them at college, reporting on his fellow students.

After graduating in 1978 from the veterinary school at the University of Mogadishu, Mr Ghedi had a two-year scholarship at the University of Pisa before returning as a lecturer and subsequently a departmental head at the Veterinary School in Mogadishu where he served until the collapse of Siad Barre's regime in 1991.

When civil war broke out, Mr Ghedi went into exile, mostly in Ethiopia and Kenya where he served as a consultant in various regional livestock bodies in East Africa.

His official biography stressed that he was not linked to any armed group during the war and was not a military man.

But some sources say that at the time of the power struggle between notorious Somali warlords Mohammed Farah Aideed and Ali Mahdi in 1991-1992, Mr Ghedi was first linked to Ali Mahdi before the two men fell out, after which Mr Ghedi criticised him publicly at a news conference.

For whatever reason, the Hawiye clan apparently distrusted Mr Ghedi as much as the president and the Ethiopians, and it became clear he could not persuade them to stop backing the Islamist insurrection.

And this in the end meant he was on borrowed time.

Diplomats and analysts say that unless the Hawiye are allowed a say in who replaces Mr Ghedi, there will be no respite from the current violence which has forced hudnreds of thousands of civilians to flee Mogadishu.





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