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Senior Somali officials "disappear" amidst fear of corruption prosecution

Tuesday July 4, 2023

Mogadishu (HOL) - Close to a dozen senior Somali government officials have failed to return to their posts following recent public holidays, raising concerns that they may be evading potential prosecution. Among the missing officials are two Director Generals, one Department Head, and five staffers, with some believed to be located in Turkey and Kenya. In total, eight officials are currently unaccounted for.

According to a confidential source, who spoke on condition of anonymity due to the sensitive nature of the issue, the government officials are apprehensive about the possibility of being arrested upon their return. The source revealed that these officials should have reported back to work following the conclusion of Eid and Independence Day public holidays.

This wave of absentees emerged after Muhidin Hassan Jurus 'Saabey,' the head of the taxation at the Ministry of Finance, fled following the arrest of several senior civil servants within Banadir's taxation department and upon learning of an investigation into his alleged involvement in corruption. Saabe was served a warrant on June 20 but managed to evade arrest. He criticized the arrest procedure, arguing that the courts should issue such warrants rather than the police.

Somalia's endemic corruption problem, a deeply rooted issue characterized by bribery, embezzlement of public funds, and nepotism, has stagnated its growth and development, consistently securing its place at the bottom of Transparency International's Corruption Perceptions Index that ranks 180 countries. Yet, it could become eligible for significant debt relief by year's end if it demonstrates improved budgetary management. Somalia's chances of receiving full debt relief from the International Monetary Fund and other multilateral lenders are contingent on demonstrable improvements in revenue collection and fiscal transparency. If achieved, this relief would reduce Somalia's debt to around $550 million from $5.2 billion by 2023. Central to this effort is the necessity to tackle public corruption and overhaul its financial institutions, thereby instigating an all-out war on corruption by the Somali government.

President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud and Prime Minister Hamza Abdi Barre have launched a publicized war on corruption, signing several anti-corruption directives and arresting those involved in corruption-related crimes. Trials of the arrested officials, including Abdullahi Mohamed Ali, Director-General of the Ministry of Labor and Social Affairs, will be publicly broadcast to ensure transparency. Five other officials from various government offices working at Aden Adde International Airport in Mogadishu were also arrested and charged with corruption, forgery, and abuse of power. The accused individuals, who held positions in the Accountant General, Ministry of Finance, Immigration and Nationality Agency, and Central Bank, are believed to be part of a larger corruption network.