Saturday, November 30, 2013

Somalia Appoints Interim Bank Chief

Somalia appoints interim bank chief

Yusur Abrar, shown above, resigned the position and fled the country after being pressured to engage in corrupt activity


NAIROBI — Somalia’s government has lined up a former governor of the central bank to return to the job temporarily and could approve his appointment in its bid to steady an institution that has been rocked by disputes about corruption.

Two governors have left in quick succession this year. The first was accused by United Nations (UN) investigators of corruption, which he denied.

The second governor quit and fled Somalia after saying she was under pressure to sign off on shady dealings.

The government has denied any corruption, but the departures have undermined donor confidence in the bank, whose probity is seen as vital to the country’s rebuilding effort.

Bashir Issa Ali, governor under a former transitional government, who also held a top post in Somalia’s commercial bank, has been asked to take up the post on an interim basis, Finance Minister Mohamud Hassan Suleiman told Reuters.

"There is an understanding with him and the government that he holds that position temporarily, but there is no cabinet approval," Mr Suleiman said.

There would be a council of ministers meeting on Thursday and his appointment was on the agenda. "He is widely experienced," he said, adding that Mr Ali was a man of integrity.

He began his banking career in the 1960s and has held several top posts.

The minister, speaking by telephone from Mogadishu before a cabinet meeting, did not explain why Mr Ali would not be given the post on a permanent basis.

Western and other donors, which have poured aid into Somalia to help prevent an Islamist militant resurgence, have pressed the government to clean up its finances.

Diplomats said the central bank saga has hurt confidence in the government.

The country’s first woman governor, Yusur Abrar, resigned and fled Somalia a month ago after less than two months in the post, citing pressure to authorise improper deals, accusations the government denied.

She had taken over from Abdusalam Omer, who left in September after holding the post since February.

A UN monitoring group report linked him to irregularities in central bank withdrawals, a charge he and the government denied.

Western nations and others in the region see Somalia’s reconstruction as vital to preventing the Islamist militant al-Shabaab group from regaining ground after being pushed out of major urban areas by an African peacekeeping force.

The areas the group controls are still seen as a launch pad for militants with more global ambitions and targets.


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