Transportation worker Mohamed A. Mohamed has returned to his office job with the New York Department of Transportation in Buffalo, following a nine month leave to serve as Prime Minister of Somalia.
Mohamed, 49, is a Somali native who resettled in Buffalo in 1990, and has since lived in Grand Island with his wife and four kids.
In a remarkable decision, Mohamed was named prime minister on October 14, 2010, by Somali President Sharif Sheikh Ahmed. President Ahmed offered the post to Mohamed following a conversation the two had upon first meeting at the U.N. last year.
Many had criticized Mohamed for his lack of experience in the field and naivety regarding the situation on the ground in Somalia, particularly since he had not returned to the country in a quarter-century.
Mohamed told the Buffalo News, “When I went there I thought there was a functioning system that only needed some adjustment here and there.”
"But honestly," he said, "Everywhere was dysfunction. You're starting from scratch."
Once made prime minister, Mohamed appealed to international leaders to pay closer attention to the situation in Somalia, as the country experienced its worst drought in 60 years. The resulting famine in Somalia has contributed to what the U.N. refugee agency describes as the worst humanitarian disaster in the world right now.
Despite his nine month efforts to address Somalia's ongoing issues, Mohamed returned to his civil-service post at the Buffalo DOT on Thursday, following political pressure that forced him to resign his post as Somali Prime Minister.
Somali president Ahmed, and the speaker of Parliament, Sharif Hassan Sheik Aden, agreed to dismiss Mohamed as part of a deal to extend the transitional government, reported the New York Times. Aden would not work with Mohamed and made the deal conditional on his replacement.
Despite Mohamed's and the public's protests, it was reportedly Uganda president Yoweri Museveni who had the final say in forcing Mohamed to step down. Uganda has a say in Somali politics as it plays a strategic peacekeeping role in the country, with several thousand Ugandan peacekeepers guarding officials in Mogadishu.
Somalia has been in a constant state of turmoil since 1991, when the central government collapsed. The Ugandan peacekeepers and government-allied militia have been fighting Islamist insurgents in the country for the past weeks.
Western diplomats and the international community agree there will be no progress in the fight against the insurgents, though, as long as the transitional government in Somalia continues to have internal conflicts such as these.
Upon his departure, Mohamed insisted on naming his successor, Abdiweli M. Ali, an economics professor at Niagara University, who is also a Somali exile in upstate New York.
For Mohamed the shift back to a desk job in New York from his time spent as a leader of his mother country, has been surreal. "It's a different feeling when you're heading a whole nation and you come back to your normal life," Mohamed told the Buffalo News. "It's a little awkward, to tell you the truth."
Mohamed has expressed the experience as Somalia’s Prime Minister has changed him, has humbled him, and has made him more appreciative.
As a result, Mohamed now wants to start a nonprofit to help Somali communities in the U.S., and wants to write a book about his extraordinary experiences.