AFRICA

Meet Somalia’s new President, ex-Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo

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Members of parliament elected ex-Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmaajo as Somalia’s 9th President after the second round of the elections and many hours of deliberations, defeating the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud in a surprise result and tight race.

The election was held amid tight security at the heavily guarded airport base in capital city Mogadishu. A no-fly zone was imposed over the city to prevent attacks from militant islamist groups.

For the first time in a quarter-century, Somalia is attempting to put together a central government. The East-African nation has not had a one-person one-vote democratic election since 1969 due to warlord-led conflicts, famine, dictatorship and conflicts involving clan militias and islamist extremists.

During his tenure as Prime Minister, Farmaajo achieved developmental results in Somalia’s national army and strengthened government institutions. His reputation as a Somalia nationalist and patriot gained him a lot of Somali supporters who believed him to be the only leader that could reshape Somalia’s political crisis.

These achievements made him a popular presidential candidate during the campaign, leading all the online polls and projections released by prominent media houses.

His chances of winning increased when it was revealed that Ethiopia was backing the incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud.

After the second round of the election, Farmaajo won 184 votes compared to 97 votes obtained by the incumbent president, who conceded avoiding a third and final vote.

Following announcement of his win, Somalian citizens, internally displaced persons (IDPs), national army and the military across the country took to the streets in celebration of a successful democratic process.

Farmaajo declared his victory as a win for the Somali people, he promised to strengthen Somalia’s unity, tackle corruption and al-Shabab.

The new president is popularly known as “Farmajo”, because of his love for Italian cheese.

Farmaajo was born in Mogadishu in 1962, and is a father of four. He is the former Chair of the Tayo political party, he holds dual Somalia-U.S. citizenship.

 

Faiza Abdirashid contributed to this report.

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