Somalia’s foreign partners hail peaceful election of new president

Newly elected Somalia President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud looks on after he was sworn-in, in the capital Mogadishu, on May 15, 2022. (Photo: AFP)
MOGADISHU — Somalia’s international partners on Monday welcomed the election of President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud, who takes office after months of political instability and faces crises including a violent insurgency and devastating drought.اضافة اعلان

Residents in the capital Mogadishu raced through the streets banging metal cans and fired guns into the air in celebration as the result of the marathon poll was announced around midnight.

Many hope the vote — an indirect process that concluded peacefully despite claims of irregularities — will draw a line under a political crisis that has lasted well over a year.

Outgoing president Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed’s term ended in February 2021 without an election. The protracted tussle for power that followed turned violent at times and caused divisions at the highest levels of government.

Somalia’s foreign backers had repeatedly warned that the election delays were a dangerous distraction from the fight against Al-Shabaab insurgents, who have been trying to overthrow the government for over a decade.

The UN on Monday congratulated Mohamud and praised Somalia’s political and security agencies “for ensuring the orderly, peaceful and secure presidential election.”

In a statement on Twitter, the UN Assistance Mission in Somalia (UNSOM) also commended Farmajo “for honoring the Somali tradition of immediately accepting the election results and pledging support to his successor.”

EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell urged Mohamud to appoint a government quickly to undertake “serious efforts of reconciliation” and much-needed security, economic and political reforms.

Diplomats from the African Union, the US, Britain, the East African regional bloc IGAD, and the leaders of Somalia’s immediate neighbors Ethiopia, Kenya and Djibouti also offered their congratulations.

Mohamud — who served as president between 2012 and 2017 and is the first Somali leader to win a second term — promised to transform the troubled Horn of Africa nation into “a peaceful country that is at peace with the world”.

Somalia has not held a one-person, one-vote election in 50 years and few of its 15 million people played any part in choosing Mohamud.

Instead, polls follow a complex indirect model, where state legislatures and clan delegates pick lawmakers for the national parliament, which in turn chooses the president.

Still, celebrations in Mogadishu stretched into the early hours, and some expressed relief that the long-running election saga was finally over.

“This country seriously needed leadership change to avoid bloodshed... that’s why this election was so important,” said Habiil Ali, a resident from Mogadishu’s Wadajir district.

A former academic and peace activist, Mohamud’s first election had raised hopes that Somalia was on the path to stability.

But his administration was dogged by high-profile corruption scandals and political turmoil, with two of his three prime ministerial appointees forced out, and two central bank governors resigning.

In addition to tackling a looming famine caused by drought, Mohamud will also need to fix the damage inflicted by months of political infighting, at the executive level and between central and state government.

At his swearing-in after midnight on Sunday, he hailed his predecessor for enabling a peaceful transfer of power and promised to “heal any grievances.”

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