Thu Feb 23, 2017 2:46PM
Somalia's newly-appointed Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre
Somalia's newly-appointed Prime Minister Hassan Ali Khayre

Somalia’s new president has picked Hassan Ali Khayre, a former aid worker and oil executive, to serve as the prime minister in the war-torn country.

Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, better known by his nickname Farmajo, appointed Khayre as the country’s prime minister on Thursday.

Khayre, 49, has previously served as the director of the British oil company Soma Oil and Gas, a controversial mission which has exposed him to investigations in Britain. He holds dual Norwegian and Somali citizenship and has also served as a regional director of the Norwegian Refugee Council charity.

A close associate of former president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, Khayre is a member of the Hawiye clan, one of the main tribes in Somalia.

Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen, is from Darod, another major clan in Somalia, and his nomination of Khayre is in line with the traditional clan balance in the Somali government.

Khayre, whose name is also spelt as Khaire, was nearly convicted in December in Britain over alleged wrongdoing during his tenure in Soma Oil and Gas. However, Britain's Serious Fraud Office closed the investigation and said that there was "insufficient evidence” to prove that Khayre was guilty.

The political newcomer said after his appointment that he would do his best to “form a government that represents the public,” while he promised to “tirelessly work” with Farmajo. Disagreement between the president and prime minister in Somalia over the past years has been a major obstacle in the way to bring economic and political stability in the fragile horn Africa nation.

This photo taken on February 08, 2017 shows newly-elected President of Somalia and former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, known as Farmajo, gesturing as he makes an address in Mogadishu after he was elected president. (Photo by AFP)

Farmajo left for Saudi Arabia after the nomination of Khayre for his first foreign trip since his inauguration on Wednesday, which could signal a significant shift in Somalia's choice of new alliances. Previous Somali leaders had all paid their very first foreign trips to Ethiopia.

Farmajo and Khayre are seeking to establish the first functioning central government in Somalia after a quarter-century of conflict and drought.

The parliament in Somalia must approve the appointment of the new premier.