Somalia's prime minister, Hassan ali-Khaire, said his government had demanded the U.S. briefly suspend aid to much of Somalia's armed forces in an effort to improve transparency and accountability following corruption concerns. Speaking Saturday to reporters in Mogadishu, Khaire blamed former Somali governments for U.S. concerns about corruption.
"In the first month in office, my government stood for the need for Somalia to be governed on transparency principles," he said. "To ensure such principles, Somalia and the U.S. government have agreed to this aid suspension."
He said that the pause in assistance was part of his government's effort to fight corruption by tackling misconduct and opening the door to accountability.
"We have done a study that made it possible to find out the challenges against rebuilding our national army, including diversion of soldiers' salaries, lying about the list of the active and alive military personnel, and as a result, we have jointly decided to suspend the U.S. aid to parts of Somalia's military for a few weeks until we improve and fix the errors," Khaire said.
Mattis 'sure' of progress
On Friday, U.S. Secretary of Defense Jim Mattis said that he was optimistic about improving Somali accountability concerning the distribution of American aid to Somali armed forces.
"I'm sure we can get this thing under control, even if it's not for the whole, but for parts of it," Mattis told reporters at the Pentagon.
Despite the aid suspension, Khaire said his government was confident that it had gained the trust of both Somali people and its international partners.
"In the light of the recent IMF [International Monetary Fund] and World Bank reports on Somalia and the work we have so far done, we are confident that we have gained the trust of the Somali people and our international friends," he said.
For nearly two decades, Somalia has been among the world's most corrupt countries, topping the list made by the corruption monitoring group Transparency International.
Nepotism, favoritism, bribery and aid embezzlement have been commonplace across all sectors, making many citizens believe that corruption is a normal way of life.