Somalia’s Parliament elected former Prime Minister Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo, a dual US-Somali citizen, as the country’s new president Wednesday.
Farmajo was declared victorious after incumbent President Hassan Sheikh Mohamud dropped out of the contest following the second round of voting.
Mohamud, who took office in 2012, withdrew from the final ballot after losing 184 to 97 to Farmajo in the second round.
Farmajo’s victory was greeted by celebratory gunfire in government-controlled areas of the country.
He moved to Buffalo, New York, because of its sizable community of Somali refugees, according to his daughter, Intisar Mohamed, who still lives in the area.
He earned a bachelor’s and master’s degrees from the State University of New York (SUNY).
In 2010 then-President Sheikh Sharif Ahmed asked him to serve as prime minister, a position he resigned because of a rift with the President.
Farmajo faces many challenges in governing Somalia, one of the seven Muslim majority countries that US President Donald Trump included in his executive order on immigration. The order currently is under challenge in the US courts.
One of the world’s poorest countries, Somalia’s governance structure, economic infrastructure, and institutions have been destroyed by civil war, the World Bank reports.
Extremist groups such as Al-Shabaab emerged early this decade and have staged brazen attacks throughout the nation.
Farmajo, a Somali patriotic leader
Mohamed Abdullahi Farmajo has a great experience in the paths of Somali politics. All Somalis of different intellectual persuasions are unanimous on the fact that the man is a patriotic leader who believes that the international bodies and organizations are not comparable to him, and that they should not practice any guardianship over him.
Farmajo treats his counterparts in the world on equal grounds, and not superior to him, contrary to what most Somali politicians do.
Also, Farmajo succeeded in a difficult equation in which his predecessors and successors (as prime minister) failed, i. e. the liberation of the capital of the dominance of the Youth movement at the height of its power.
Moreover, he has restored hope in the possibility of re-building the state. One of the reasons behind Farmajo’s success goes back to the fact that the tribe that dominates Mogadishu does not have any sensitivity toward his belonging to ‘Mrihan’ clan, unlike other candidates who belong to differet clans.
Obstacles in the way of the new Somali president
– Farmajo’s strained relations with the international community:
Farmajo is classified as a leader that adopts hardline attitudes toward the role played by the international community in the political scene in the country, especially from the neighboring countries of Ethiopia and Kenya. Also, he does not enjoy strong relations with other countries concerned with the Somali affairs, whether international or regional.
– His relationship with the administrative regions:
The governors of Somali administrative regions (Puntland, Jubaland, Galmud, Hir-Shabelle, and South West State) are expected to play a pivotal role in supporting Farmajo’s experience or foiling it. It is known that the man’s relationship with the governors of these regions is not strong, and that he only obtained their support after being able to reach the second round of elections.
– The absence of financial support:
The man lacks a strong local or regional front to stand behind him, and help him to finance his electoral platform goals, especially under the major security challenges that he will be facing in Somalia.