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Mohamed Abdullahi Elected as Somalia’s New President | ASHARQ AL-AWSAT English Archive 2005 -2017
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Then-Somali Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed addresses officials after his swearing in ceremony at the Presidential residence in Mogadishu, Somalia. (AP)

Cairo – Former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Mohamed, nicknamed “Farmajo”, was sworn in as Somalia’s new president, for a four-year presidential term, after winning over 21 other candidates.

“Farmajo” became the third elected president since 26 years, succeeding Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud (2012-2017) and Sherif Sheikh Ahmed (2009-2012).

The newly elected president is a dual U.S.-Somali citizen and former prime minister, who pursued his education in the U.S.

Mohamed served as Somalia’s prime minister from 2010 to 2011, when he reduced the size of the cabinet and was credited with appointing technocrats.

In the 1980s, the new president worked as a diplomat in the Somali embassy in Washington and lived in the United States for several years after that, including a period working for the New York State Department of Transportation.

Addressing parliamentarians upon his election, Mohamed said: “This is a victory for Somalia and the Somalis.”

The voting process, which lasted months, began with 14,000 elders and regional figures choosing 275 members of parliament and 54 senators, who then had to choose among 21 candidates.

Incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mahmoud acknowledged defeat after two rounds of voting, saying: “History was made. We have taken this path to democracy.”

Mahmoud held a slight lead over Mohamed after an initial round of voting that included 21 candidates. But Mohamed easily won the second round contested among three candidates, with 184 votes to Mahmoud’s 97.

Earlier on Wednesday, gunmen stormed a hotel in Somalia’s semi-autonomous Puntland region, killing four guards, a senior official quoted by Reuters said.

ISIS claimed responsibility for the attack in Bosasso, according to its news agency Amaq. A group declaring allegiance to ISIS has been active in the Puntland region in recent months, Reuters reported.

The senior official had earlier blamed al-Shabaab movement, but a spokesman for the Somali group denied this.