Somalia (Tasnim) – A former prime minister who holds dual Somali-US citizenship was declared Somalia’s new president Wednesday, immediately taking the oath of office as the long-chaotic country moved toward its first fully functioning central government in a quarter-century.
Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamoud conceded defeat after two rounds of voting, and former Prime Minister Mohammad Abdullahi Farmajo was declared the new leader.
“History was made, we have taken this path to democracy, and now I want to congratulate Mohammad Abdullahi Farmajo,” the former president said, AP reported.
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.
Mohamoud 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 interests of the Somali people. This victory belongs to the 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 US since 1985, when he was sent there with Somalia’s Foreign Affairs Ministry.
This report prepared by Tasnim News Agency