Nur Hassan Hussein, Former Prime Minister of Somalia, Dies at 82


This obituary is part of a series about people who have died in the coronavirus pandemic. Read about others here.

Nur Hassan Hussein, who led Somalia as its prime minister during a crucial transitional period beset by insurgency and humanitarian crises, died on Wednesday in London. He was 82.

His death came after he had contracted the coronavirus, his family said. Mr. Hussein, popularly known as Nur Adde, had been treated at King’s College Hospital for over two weeks.

He was born in Mogadishu, Somalia’s capital, on Feb. 2, 1938, and studied law in both Somalia and Italy. He spent decades in various government jobs, including serving as a law enforcement official under the Somali dictator Mohamed Siad Barre.

Mr. Hussein became the country’s attorney general in 1987, four years before a decades-long civil war began. He later ran the Somali Red Crescent Society.

He became prime minister in November 2007 as tens of thousands of Somalis were fleeing their homes amid fighting between Islamist insurgents and Western-backed Somali and Ethiopian forces.

As that humanitarian crisis unfolded, Mr. Hussein was recognized for overseeing negotiations with the insurgents, leading to the signing of a peace agreement in mid-2008 and the formation of a unity government several months later.

He remained as prime minister until February 2009, replaced by the new president, Sheik Sharif Sheik Ahmed. That June, Mr. Hussein was appointed Somalia’s ambassador to Italy.

He is survived by his wife and seven children, who live in the United States, the United Kingdom and Somalia.

Adam Aw Hirsi, a former official who worked under Mr. Hussein, described him on Twitter as a “most laid-back yet most decisive” leader.

President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed of Somalia declared a three-day mourning period and ordered flags to be flown at half- staff to give Mr. Hussein, he said, “the national recognition he deserves.”

Hussein Mohamed contributed reporting from Mogadishu, Somalia.

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