Somalia Turns the Page on Political Divisions With a New President

Somalia Turns the Page on Political Divisions With a New President
Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, right, marks his election win with incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, left, in Mogadishu, Somalia, May 15, 2022 (AP photo by Farah Abdi Warsameh).

Somali lawmakers elected Hassan Sheikh Mohamud as the country’s next president yesterday in a vote broadcast live on national television, bringing a conclusion to a dramatic, long-delayed presidential election that threatened to exacerbate socio-political tensions in the country. Mohamud, who previously served as Somalia’s president between 2012 and 2017, beat out 36 candidates, including incumbent President Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed. Farmaajo, as Mohamed is known, conceded defeat, paving the way for Mohamud to be sworn in immediately.

The poll was conducted in a tent on the premises of Mogadishu’s heavily guarded airport complex, amid a lockdown and curfew imposed on the city by the African Union Transition Mission in Somalia, or ATMIS. After it became clear that Mohamud had won, his supporters defied the curfew to pour into Mogadishu’s streets in celebration.

But they, and Mohamud, will have little time for celebration, given the arduous tasks lying ahead for him and the country. These include a protracted battle against al-Shabab insurgents, an economic downturn, tensions with the country’s regional neighbors and a drought that threatens to create a humanitarian catastrophe in Somalia and the Horn of Africa.

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