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‎Mukhtar Robow: I was in prison when I got the call to be Minister

Tuesday August 16, 2022

Mogadishu (HOL) - Somalia's Religious Affairs Minister and former Al Shabaab leader Mukhtar Robow Abu Mansour said that he was sitting in a prison cell when he was called to the prime minister's office and appointed minister.

"I was in prison for four hours when he was appointed. I got a call from the prime minister's office at 11 o'clock. First, the PM told me that I was no longer a prisoner and that my political rights were restored. He told me that I was appointed to lead the Ministry of Religious Affairs and tasked with leading the scholars. I accepted my duty.

Robow denied that he had asked to be appointed. He said the new government would focus on strengthening the role of religion in Somali society.

He asked for forgiveness from the Somali scholars and their cooperation, saying he believes he made grave mistakes in the past, but he is ready to assist the scholars in guiding Somalia.

Before he was appointed minister, Mukhtar Robow Ali Abu Mansoor was forcefully arrested and kept under house arrest since December 2018 after attempting to run for president in South West state. 

The Somali federal government has said Mukhtar Robow did not meet the amnesty requirements and could not run in the regional election. The subsequent protests in Baidoa were put down with force, leading to dozens of deaths. The UN's criticism of the government's handling of protestors led to the expulsion of the UN's top diplomat in Somalia.

At the time, he said that his detention was politically motivated.

In December 2021, Somalia's security minister demanded the security agencies provide information on Mukhtar Robow's condition within 24 hours.NISA responded to the security minister's request, saying Robow was in good health and the government paid $7,000 monthly for his care.

On Saturday, Robow said in a press conference that he regretted how the events unfolded in Baidoa and asked for forgiveness. He acknowledged that many people opposed his appointment as a Cabinet minister but said he would work hard to earn their absolution.



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