Somalia's new president is also a U.S. citizen

Posted Date: Sunday, February 12, 2017

Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo spent more than 20 years living in the United States The Associated Press Posted: Feb 08, 2017 7:02 PM ET| Last Updated: Feb 08, 2017 7:02 PM ET Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo spent more than 20 years living in the United States The Associated Press Posted: Feb 08, 2017 7:02 PM ET| Last Updated: Feb 08, 2017 7:02 PM ET 'Daunting task' "There is a daunting task ahead of me, and I know that," he said. Thousands of jubilant Somalis poured into the streets, chanting the new president's name as cheering soldiers fired into the air. "Somalia will be another Somalia soon," said Ahmed Ali, a police officer celebrating in the crowd. Incumbent president Hassan Sheikh Mohamud conceded defeat after two rounds of voting, saying: "History was made. We have taken this path to democracy." Mohamud held a slight lead over Farmajo after an initial round of voting Wednesday that included a field of 21 candidates. But Farmajo easily won the second round contested among three candidates, with 184 votes to Mohamud's 97. The new president represents a generation of Somalis scattered abroad by conflict who cautiously have begun to return to help their homeland recover. Most of the candidates in the election held dual citizenship. Farmajo, who is in his mid-50s and holds degrees from the State University of New York in Buffalo, was prime minister for eight months before leaving the post in 2011. While he was in office, al-Shabaab was expelled from Mogadishu, his campaign biography says. 'Help us move forward' 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-Shabaab attacks, along with famine, left the Horn of Africa country of some 12 million people shattered. Across Mogadishu, Somalis had gathered around TV screens at cafés 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. Somalia's instability landed it among the seven Muslim-majority countries affected by U.S. President Donald Trump's executive order on immigration, even though its government has been an increasingly important partner for the U.S. military on counterterrorism efforts, including drone strikes against al-Shabaab leaders. As an American citizen, Farmajo will be able to travel to the United States despite the ban. In a sign of the dangers that remain in Mogadishu, two mortar rounds fired by suspected extremists late Tuesday hit near the election venue. There were no such attacks reported in the capital on Wednesday and no public statements by al-Shabaab. The international community pushed Somalia to hold the election as a symbol of strength, with the U.S. pouring in hundreds of millions of dollars in recent years for political and economic recovery. But the election was marred by reports of widespread graft in a country recently ranked as the world's most corrupt by Transparency International. http://www.cbc.ca/news/world/somalia-election-us-citizen-1.3973150

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