Meet Mohammed Abdullahi Farmajo who just got elected as Somali new president. Abudllahi who was a former prime minister and who holds dual Somali-U.S. citizenship was declared Somalia’s new president Wednesday.
Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat after two rounds of voting, and former prime minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo was declared the new leader.
“History was made, we have taken this path to democracy, and now I want to congratulate Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo,” Mohamud said.
Fears of attacks by extremist group al-Shabab limited the election to the lawmakers instead of the population at large. Members of the upper and lower houses of the legislature voted at a heavily guarded former air force base in the capital, Mogadishu, while a security lockdown closed the international airport.
Thousands of cheering Somalis quickly poured into the streets in jubilation, chanting the new president’s name. Cheering soldiers fired into the air. “Somalia will be another Somalia soon,” said Ahmed Ali, a police officer celebrating in the crowd.
Mohamud held a slight lead over Farmajo, 88 votes to 72, after the first round of 21 candidates, but Farmajo held a clear lead after the second round among the three candidates remaining.
“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 after taking the oath of office.
Farmajo, who holds degrees from the State University of New York in Buffalo, was prime minister for eight months before leaving the post in 2011. He had lived in the United States since 1985, when he was sent there with Somalia’s foreign affairs ministry.
Somalia began to fall apart in 1991, when warlords ousted dictator Siad Barre and then turned on each other. Years of conflict and al-Shabab attacks, along with famine, left this Horn of Africa country of about 12 million people largely shattered.
Across Mogadishu, Somalis had gathered around TV screens at cafes and homes, eagerly watching the vote. “We need an honest leader who can help us move forward,” said Ahmed Hassan, a 26-year-old university student.
Despite US opening its embassy in Moqadishu after 25 years and also the new president holding a dual US-Somali citizenship his country were among the 7 countries listed under Trump ban.