Somali legislators have elected former leader Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s next president, following a long-overdue election on Sunday in the troubled Horn of Africa nation.
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, won the contest in the capital, Mogadishu, amid a security lockdown imposed by authorities to prevent deadly rebel attacks.
After marathon poll, involving 36 candidates, that was broadcast live on state TV, parliamentary officials counted more than 165 votes in favour of former President Mohamud, more than the number required to defeat incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed.
Supporters of Somalia’s new leader defied the curfew to pour onto the streets of Mogadishu, cheering and firing guns as it became clear that Mohamud had won the vote.
Many hope the vote will draw a line under a political crisis that has lasted well over a year, after Mohamed’s term ended in February 2021 without an election.
The president – who is also known as Farmaajo because of his appetite for Italian cheese – conceded defeat, and Mohamud was immediately sworn in.
The new leader struck a conciliatory tone in his acceptance speech from the airport compound in Mogadishu, which was patrolled by African Union (AU) peacekeepers.
“It is indeed commendable that the president is here standing by my side,” Mohamud said, referring to the f”ormer leader, who had sat with him as ballots were counted.“We have to move ahead, we do not need grudges. No avenging,” the new president said.