Somalia’s presidential election was just recently concluded, and Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a U.S citizen who was once Prime Minister of Somalia, is the new President.
Farmajo’s win came in the second round due to the result of the first round not meeting the requirement for selecting a new President.
Former President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat, as Farmajo immediately took the oath of office. The security situation in Somalia, however, would not allow for the pomp and pageantry of usual inauguration ceremonies.
The election took place in Mogadishu’s airport due to security concerns. The elections were at first, meant to hold at the police academy in Mogadishu, but it was eventually moved to the Aden Adde International Airport in the capital, Mogadishu.
The security situation, which included threats from Islamic militants al-Shabab – who threatened to disrupt the election – also influenced the voting process. Due to the Al-Shabab threat, the citizens were unable to vote for a new president directly. Rather, 329 members of the lower and upper houses of parliament voted in the president.
With over 20 people contesting the election, the eventual winner had to gain more than two-thirds of the vote or else another round will be conducted until a unanimous winner emerges.
At the end of the first round, the former President, Hassan Sheikh Mohamud got 88 votes while Farmajo received 72 votes. In the second round, however, Farmajo led with 184 votes to Mohamud’s 97, thereby becoming the winner.
“This victory represents the interest of the Somali people. This victory belongs to Somali people, and this is the beginning of the era of the unity, the democracy of Somalia and the beginning of the fight against corruption,” Farmajo said. “There is a daunting task ahead of me, and I know that.”
Somalis took to the streets to celebrate the success of the election which had been delayed and postponed a number of times since August 2016.
Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo
The new president is a holder of a United States passport, having lived there since 1985 when he was sent as part of Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry. The 54-year-old, currently the 9th President of this horn of Africa country, holds degrees from the State University of New York in Buffalo.
He previously served as the Prime Minister of Somalia between 2010 and 2011.
Somalia has been mired in conflict from as far back as 1991 when the former dictator, Siad Barre was deposed by warlords, eventually leading to a state collapse as infighting continued. Somalia has also suffered famine, clan rivalries, and Al-Shabab, an insurgency which grew in 2006 and has since pledged allegiance to al-Qaeda. On Transparency International, it is also the most corrupt country in Africa and the entire world.
As a result of the insecurity in Somalia, U.S President Donald Trump marked it as one of the seven Muslim countries temporarily banned from entering the United States.
“We encourage Somalia’s new administration to take credible steps to stamp out corruption and to establish strong electoral institutions to enable a free and fair one person one vote poll in 2020,” State Department spokesman Mark Toner said as the US congratulated Farmajo.
Farmajo pledged to improve security, fight corruption and help the poor.